Land Cover & Land Cover Change
Land cover and land cover change research in our group currently focuses on two main themes. First, we are responsible for maintaining and refining the MODIS Land Cover Type Product (MCD12Q1). This product includes a set of five layers in which land cover is mapped using different classification systems including the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme classification, a 14-class system developed at the University of Maryland, a 6-biome system used by the MODIS LAI/FPAR algorithm, a biome classification developed by scientists at the University of Montana in support of ecosystems models, and a plant functional type classification designed to support land surface parameterizations in climate models. The most recent version of this product is collection 5, which is described in Friedl et al. (2010) (see “Publications”). In collection 6, which is nominally scheduled for production in early 2013, we plan to add a classification that conforms to the FAO Land Cover Classification System.
The second main element of current land cover-related research focuses on monitoring change in global land cover. The goal of this work is to develop new methods and algorithms that make more effective and explicit use of time series information and techniques. This work specifically attempts to exploit the 11+ year time series of MODIS data using Bayesian and functional data analysis techniques to detect and characterize signatures of land cover change in MODIS time series. A central challenge of this work is to develop robust techniques that are suitable for use with moderate and higher spatial resolution data, and that are able to capture the wide range of processes (including both natural disturbance and human-induced land cover change) that produce change at global scales. Research activities in this area have strong overlap with our activities focused on human-dominated ecosystems.