Landcover data

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Global coverage

  • The USGS Landcover Institute have a comprehensive list of links to landcover products for each continenent (the most comprehensive I've seen).
  • NASA's Suomi NPP VIRRS satellite data are great for population density data (the nightlight dataset) and fire prevalence. VIRRS data can be accessed through the Naval Research Lab, LAADS, NOAA, or via FTP. Data access tutorials here and here.
  • NOAA's EOG group provides cloud-free nighttime composites
  • MODIS Vegetation Continious Fields can be accessed through GLCF
  • MODIS Tree Cover Continious Fields can be accessed through GLCF
  • GLCF Land cover classification, derived from AVHRR, from the GLCF
  • Vegetation cover conversion, derived from MODIS, via GLCF
  • GIMMS NDVI data (1981-2006) derived from NOAA's AVHRR instrument, can be accessed through GLCF.
  • Net Primary Productivity product, derived from AVHRR, via GLCF
  • The WWF provides a map of global river networks through their Hydrosheds program. More information can be obtained through the USGS Hydroshed link.
  • The Global Forest Watch database provides data on logging concessions, landcover, landuse, administrative layers, and population data for a number of countries. You can also browse data on their interactive map that combines data from the GLCF and Landsat.
  • NatureServe Explorer offers visitors a searchable database of "Ecological Units" of North America, which largely correspond with broad habitat types, while NatureServe's Infonatura provides a searchable database of "Ecological Units" of South and Central America.
  • Global Landcover Map for 2000 (1km resolution) at GEMU
  • MODIS Landcover products from Boston University
  • Free SPOT vegetation products (NDVI) from 2006 through VITO (alternative distribution portal here)
  • Various vegetation maps from a Berkeley resource
  • MODIS 16-day and 32-day NDVI summaries available.
  • The Netherlands Environmental Agency's Historic Database of the Global Environment (HYDE site) provides spatial datasets characterizing historical population and landuse (cropland and pasture).
  • The Atlas of the Biosphere provides users spatial maps on human impacts (population, life expectancy, literacy rates), land use, ecosystems (soil, temperature, vegetation), and water resources (runoff, precipitation, lakes and wetlands)
  • MDA Federal's EarthSat GeoCover program provides orthorectified Landsat scenes and landcover products, which they call the most accurate, commercially available base maps of the world.
  • Soil moisture data from scattered regions, obtained through the European Space Agency, available here.
  • Wetland data are also available at GlobWetland and through RAMSAR.
  • SPOT offers a range of vegetation products, including free 10-day radiometric and NDVI summaries at 1km resolution. (registration required)
  • ENVISAT-MERIS 10-day composites can be obtained through VITO in Belgium. The focus of this website falls on TOC NDVI (Top of Canopy) and the fAPAR (Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation).
  • AVHRR 10-day composites of NDVI can be obtained through VITO's METOP portal.
  • A map of the Global Soil Regions can be obtained through the USDA.
  • The European Union's Land Resource Management Unit offers a range of regional and global datasets, including forest cover maps for different forest regions of the world, global fire products, land cover products for 2000, satellite mosaics for the different continents, and a series of land surface products (mostly photosynthesis (FAPAR) derivatives).
  • Databasin's Global Forest Information Center offers a range of global and regional forest cover products, including a wide range of datasets relevant to existing and persisting forest cover.
  • HistoricalAerials, for historical aerial photographs. (Commercial website)



Local coverage

North America

  • Landcover data from the southeastern US can be obtained through Biodiversity and Spatial Information Center (BaSIC)
  •'s Aquatic Center provide a range of datasets related to aquatic ecosystems.
  • provides access to monthly fire and sea level rise forecasts for the USA. Registration required for data access.
  • The USDA's NRCS distributes soil data for the USA here. There is also a gridded soil survey database available here.
  • The USFWS distributes their wetlands inventory here.
  • The United States' National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) can be obtained through the USGS.
  • Streamnet provides access to fish and fisheries related data and reference documents in the Columbia River basin and the Pacific Northwest.
  • The USGS Landcover Institute offer a range of landcover products for North America.
  • The National Map Viewer is a portal for viewing Elevation, Orthoimagery, Hydrography, Geographic Names,Boundaries, Transportation, Structures, Land Cover, US Topo and Historical Topo Maps.
  • The EPA Multi-resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC) is another source for US landcover data, offering access to the NCLD1992, NCLD2001, NCLD2006 and changes between these time periods.
  • Maps on water distribution, water use, aquifers, and other hydrological datasets of the USA can be obtained from the USGS Water Resources Database.
  • NOAA's DigitalCoast Service Center offers landcover and lidar data for coastal locations of the USA, including landcover products, habitat maps, and structural maps for notable events, such as after hurricanes.
  • Fire data from the US Forest Service






South America

  • Central American Forest change products via GLCF



  • EDENext offers a downscaled water layer forecast (drinking water infrastructure quality indicators) for Europe in 2005, 2030, and 2050.


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