The Global Land Survey (GLS) is an enhanced and expanded edition of the GeoCover Landsat collection. GLS contains four epochs (1975, 1990, 2000, 2005) of terrain corrected Landsat imagery covering all vegetated land surfaces. The Global Land Cover Facility provides free access to this high quality imagery product via three means: through the web tool ESDI, through FTP and through hard media. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has coordinated the collection, including orthorectification and mosaicing accomplished by MDA Federal, and made a copy available for free to the world through their GLOVIS and Earth Explorer data portals. This is the most comprehensive collection of high integrity, high resolution satellite imagery for the world currently available. Please contact the GLCF for further information or visit the USGS GLS web site.
To access the GLS collection in ESDI:
- Open ESDI at: http://glcfapp.umiacs.umd.edu:8080/esdi/index.jsp
- Open the Map Search tool
- Click on the desired Landsat sensor at the upper left of the tool. Keep in mind that GLS1975 should have only MSS, GLS1990 should have TM, GLS2000 should have ETM+ and GLSS2005 should have TM, ETM+ and ALI. For this example, click on the ETM+ sensor.
- In the Require box, click on the GLS option.
- Click Update Map to engage choices.
- The map shows pink fill for anywhere on the map that meets the criteria. Zoom in and select a particular scene, or open the path/row tab and enter a desired location. For this example, click on the Path/Row tab on top of the map area. Enter "15" for path and "33" for row. Click Update Map again.
- Click the Preview and Download button and available scenes will be listed. Note that GLS2000 is listed under "Attr." for attribute. To download this scene, click the Download button.
John Townshend, director of GLCF has been named as the dean of University of Maryland's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) effective July 27, 2009. BSOS is largest amongst University of Maryland's 13 colleges and schools and offers four of the five most popular majors on the campus. Read more here.
ESDI services will undergo maintenance on June 22, 2009, from 10AM to 4PM. While the ESDI interface will be unavailable then, users may still access our archive via FTP at ftp://ftp.glcf.umiacs.umd.edu . We apologize for any inconvenience.
John Townshend, Min Feng and Xiaopeng Song of the Global Land Cover Facility participated in the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group (NTSG) 4th Global Vegetation Workshop held in Missoula, Montana on June 16-19, 2009. Dr. Townshend, Project Director of the GLCF, gave a keynote presentation on "Grand Challenges in Global Remote Sensing". Dr. Feng presented a poster on "Towards Developing Earth Science Data Records of Global Forest Cover Change", while Mr. Song presented another poster on "Development of an Improved 5km Continuous Field of Forest Cover Product".
John Townshend has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the University's Landmark award. This is presented annually to a faculty member who has exhibited long-term international service to the University.
The award will be presented on November 18th by the Provost in the Prince George's Room in the Stamp Student Union.
John Townshend has been made an Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom's Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society.
Honorary membership is awarded to individuals of prominence in the field of remote sensing and photogrammetry.
The award was made by Paul Aplin, Chairman of the Society, when John visited the UK to give the Society's Annual Lecture at the University of Nottingham on the topic of "Challenges and Opportunities for Terrestrial Earth Observation."
The GLCF team (John Townshend, C Huang, M Feng & Xiaopeng Song) attended the 2009 NASA LCLUC Science Team Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland and presented a poster on "Three Decades of Forest Cover Change in the Americas Evaluated Using the GLS Data Sets" (PDF 4.9MB). John Townshend, Director of the GLCF, also gave a talk on "Land Climate Observation Needs".
C Huang, Xiaopeng Song and Do-Hyung Kim of GLCF attended the 2009 AAG (Association of American Geographers) meeting held in Las Vegas between March 22-27, 2009. Do-Hyung Kim also presented a poster on "Land Cover Classificaiton of North Korea Utilizing MOD13Q1 Data" .
The GLCF announces the publication of "Assessment of Paraguay's forest cover change using Landsat Observations" in Global and Planetary Change. Please review at Elsevier's site for the Global and Planetary Change journal.
Job Openings at the GLCF: full-time to hourlies
Update:Land Cover Analyst position is no longer open.
GLCF attends Federation of ESIPs winter meeting
The Global Land Cover Facility has job openings available for immediate occupation.A Land Cover Analyst is needed to help generate global land cover products for NASA,
and a Spatial Data Analyst is needed to help coordinate and transform data collections. Please apply!
The GLCF team attended the 2009 winter meeting of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIPs).
As a founding member of the Federation GLCF staff was pleased to participate in numerous activities at the Washington, D.C. location.
In particular, John Townshend, Director of the GLCF, presented the first Martha Maiden Award,
to NASA's Martha Maiden, for her outstanding contributions to Earth Science and the Federation.
Please click here to proceed to the pictures.
Users may now search in the Earth
Science Data Interface (ESDI) using protected area boundaries.
A derivative of the World Database on Protected Areas is available as a searchable Map Layer in the
ESDI Map Search interface. To use, open ESDI, zoom to the area of interest, click on the Map Layers
tag to select the Protected Areas and click Update Map to display. The user can then click on the Place
tag and enter the name of a protected area such as "Serengeti". Once that becomes the search polygon, then
the user can click the imagery of interest, such as "ETM+" and find all the ETM+ imagery available
for the Serengeti National Park.
New UNEP Atlas of Africa Available
UNEP, in collaboration with UMD GLCF and many others, has produced a new Atlas of Africa
as part of their Atlas of our Changing Environment series. This text includes many Landsat
images comparing a site before and after land cover change. Viewing these changes side by
side is a powerful means of illustrating both positive and negative environmental impacts.
Visit the UNEP site forr more details,
an online PDF edition of the text, and ordering information.
The GLCF is pleased to promote use of quality satellite imagery from the ALOS satellite. Our colleagues at the
Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan (RESTEC) have made
ALOS imagery available through their agreement with the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). ALOS has three sensors
capturing well documented, high precision, Earth observation imagery: PRISM, PALSAR and AVNIR-2. PRISM imagery is a 2.5m
resolution panchromatic sensor with three cameras to collect a forward, nadir and backward acquisition; a very
effective system for stereo mapping. PALSAR is an L-band SAR instrument, capturing small to large swaths,
depending on scan mode. AVNIR-2 is a 10m resolution multispectral sensor, providing four bands from blue to NIR.
Use RESTEC's online archive search interface, called CROSS, to locate and order ALOS imagery.
Flood maps derived from 250m MODIS imagery have been generated by the University of Maryland,
Department of Geography. Coverage includes areas of the 2008 cyclone flooding in Myanmar/Burma as well as the
2008 US Midwest. For more information
about this product visit the Flood Maps data pages.
The Global Land Cover Facility has received multiple awards from NASA programs to continue activities for several years.
This includes a continuation of GLCF operations as well as the development of new land cover products.
The GLCF and collaborators at UMD, NASA GSFC and SDSU will generate a new series of global forest cover and forest cover
change products. Each data set produced will meet the new, high standard of an Earth Science Data Record (ESDR).
Our primary activity will be through the NASA MEaSUREs program, with additional research and operation through NASA's EOS
and LCLUC programs. We are appreciative of all the support received from users through email, our help-us-help-you site,
and formal letters. Our goal is to continue serving the community with high quality, reliable Earth science materials.
A research team led by John Townshend at the University of Maryland Global Land Cover Facility was awarded a project
in the NASA MEaSUREs program. Titled "Earth Science Data Records of Global Forest Cover Change", this project will involve
GLCF staff over the next several years, with details in the following abstract.
There is long-standing recognition of the need for global forest change detection at Landsat-class resolutions. Previously
this was not feasible, because of the absence of well registered multi-temporal data sets, variations in sensors, the need
for intensive human input during post-processing, variations in spectral responses of forests, the efforts needed
to create validation data sets and the computational and storage demands in carrying out the analysis. We demonstrate
in this proposal that these problems have now been overcome by the availability of the GeoCover and the forthcoming
Mid-Decadal Global Land Survey (MDGLS) data sets, our ability to create atmospherically corrected reflectance products, much
improved classifiers, collection of automated dense training sets, the availability of ultra-fine resolution datasets and much lower
computational costs. We therefore propose to produce the following Earth Science Data Records (ESDR) at fine and moderate
spatial resolutions and provide the algorithms and services for producing such products:
- Global fine resolution (< 100 m) surface reflectance ESDR for four epochs centered around 1990, 2000, and 2005;
- Fine resolution (< 100 m) forest cover change (FCC) ESDR between the four epochs;
- Fragmentation products derived from the fine resolution FCC products;
- Global 250-m vegetation continuous field (VCF) based FCC ESDR from 2000 to 2005;
- FCC ESDR products aggregated from the fine resolution and the 250 m FCC products to 250 m, 500 m, 1 km, and
0.05° grids for use by carbon, biogeochemical and hydrological modelers;
- Subsets of the above products for protected areas of the world and their buffer zones.
In addition to providing these products at the native resolutions and the above listed modeling resolutions, we will
also provide estimates of forest cover change from 1990 to 2005 at country, biome, continental, and global levels.
The Global Land Cover Facility participated in the NASA Earth Science Data Systems Working Group meeting in Philadelphia,
Oct 27 - 25.
The Global Land Cover Facility has received resources to continue data center operations
for the near term. We thank the Science Mission Directorate at NASA for their continued support,
as well as the many individuals who contributed letters to keep the GLCF going. Our constant goal
is to make current and enhanced services available to all.
The Vegetation Continuous Fields (VCF) product has been enhanced and expanded in a new edition.
This includes the improved MODIS Collection 4 processing, providing more accurate MODIS inputs.
The Collection 4 edition of VCF includes percent tree cover products for each year from 2000-2005,
allowing users to view annual assessments. Additionally, while the Collection 3 is still available
that edition is constrained to large, continental tiles, the Goodes projection and MODIS spheroid.
The new Collection edition of VCF is available in the UMD tile scheme based upon UTM zones - making
it ready for use with Landsat imagery. The product format is GeoTIFF, projection is geographic,
with WGS84 datum - all designed to be easily implemented in most image processing and GIS software packages.
The Vegetation Cover Conversion (VCC) product generated at the University of Maryland is now available through the GLCF.
For further information regarding this product please review the Data and Products page.
GLCF at the Federation of ESIPs Summer Meeting
The GLCF website will be down for power system upgrades from 5:00 p.m. on Friday
, August 11 and 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, August 12.
Services will be restored as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenien
The GLCF website will be down for power system upgrades from 21:00 UTC on Friday, May 26 through Saturday, May27.
Services will be restored as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.
As of April 7 2006 the GLCF will no longer offer the MODIS 32-day surface reflectance composite product. Instead, the GLCF will begin
processing 16-day surface reflectance composites with all seven bands at 250m once MODIS Collection 5 starts. These new datasets will be
made available in ESDI as production becomes ongoing.
The 3284 IKONOS and QuickBird scenes acquired through the NASA Science Data Purchase are
now available for free at the GLCF. This is a
restricted collection, however, and users must be NASA-affiliated researchers, and fill out the registration form. This collection is
invaluable for a wide range of Earth science activities, and has been tested and reported upon through the JACIE program, among others.
Please note that this imagery is property of Space Imaging/GeoEye and DigitalGlobe.
Dr. John Townshend was the distinguished lecturer in the Smithsonian Institution Air & Space Museum's Exploring Space Lectures series on
March 14, 2006. His presentation, titled "Where have all the forests gone? Monitoring the Earth's vegetation with remote sensing" was delivered
in the Lockheed Martin IMAX theater at the Air & Space museum in Washington, D.C.. The lecture was preceded by an IMAX film
titled "Living Planet" and a 'meet the lecturer' question and answer session. This series is sponsored at the Air & Space museum
through NASA and Ball Aerospace. Contact the Smithsonian for further
information on the series.
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Kuan Song and Jose Roa of the Global Land Cover Facility made presentations at the annual meeting of the Association of American
Geographers in Chicago on March 7-11, 2006. Mr. Song's presentation was titled " Automated Forest Change Mapping, from a Geographer's
Perspective and a Computational Approach ", while Mr. Roa presented on " A Rapid Assessment of Landslide Susceptibility and Hazard
Using Landsat Imagery and SRTM Data ".
GLCF team members participated in the winter meeting of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIPs), in Washington, DC,
January 4-7, 2006. GLCF participated in development of the new Ecological Forecasting Cluster for the Earth Information Exchange data portal,
as well as engaging in technical meetings.
558 MSS scenes have been added to the GLCF Landsat data archive. The GLCF thanks colleagues at Goddard Space Flight Center for this
donation. Please visit ESDI to preview and download the new scenes.
To view the recently added scenes please click on the link below. Please click here to proceed the map.
The Advisory Committee of the Global Land Cover Facility held a meeting at the University of Maryland on November 2.
The focus of this meeting was discussion of achievement and strategy for the future, to ensure continuance of GLCF activities.
Please click here to proceed to the photo.
Dr. John Townshend Wins 2005 William T. Pecora Award
John Townshend, Project Director of the GLCF and Chair of the UMD Geography Department, is a
recipient of the prestigious 2005 William T. Pecora award for "Outstanding Leadership in Advancing Global Land Remote Sensing."
This major award is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by individuals or groups towards understanding
the Earth by means of remote sensing. The award was presented to Dr. Townshend on October 26, 2005, at the 16th annual William T. Pecora
Memorial Symposium held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The award is sponsored jointly by the Department of the Interior (DOI) and
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The award was established in 1974 to honor the memory of Dr. William T. Pecora,
former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and Under Secretary, Department of the Interior, whose vision and support helped
establish what we know today as the Landsat satellite program. Currently John Townshend chairs three international committees.
He chairs one of the panels of the Global Terrestrial Observing System, known as Global Observations of Forest Cover and Landcover
Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD), which is an international coordination committee for long term environmental observations, sponsored by the Food
and Agricultural Organization and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) among others. He is also co-chair of a related activity
known as Integrated Global Observations of the Land (IGOL), which has the responsibility for creating a 10-year plan for observations of
all aspects of the terrestrial environment. In addition, he chairs the Advisory Committee for the UNEPís Division of Early Warning and
Assessment for North America. In the past he has chaired two committees, which coordinated the creation of novel data sets derived
from remote sensing of the terrestrial environment. As chair of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programmeís Data and Information
System, he led the planning for the creation of the first global 1km resolution data set. He was also chair of a joint NASA/NOAA Committee
that led to the creation of the pathfinder data set from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer depicting changes in the terrestrial
biosphere from 1981 onwards.
Unfunded ASTER Withdrawn
Unfortunately, the USGS has made clear its policies regarding ASTER redistribution.
This involves parameters of the official ASTER agreement between NASA/USGS and Japan. The GLCF was required to remove 803 ASTER scenes
that have international locations because they have never been paid for but were provided free just to the NASA research data pool.
The GLCF remains committed to providing access to ASTER scenes over the United States, plus any international scenes that have been paid for.
If you have ASTER scenes that have been paid for and would like to make them available for free to the world,
please contact the GLCF so we can move them online for free access.
Hurricane Katrina collection
On August 29, Hurricane Katrina hit coastal Mississippi and Louisiana. There
is a special collection of GLCF and NASA-derived data for areas affected
by Hurricane Katrina.
GLCF at ESRI Annual User's Conference
Staff from the Global Land Cover Facility participated in the ESRI Annual User's Conference at the San
Diego Convention Center, July 26-28, 2005. Paul Davis, Project Manager for the GLCF project, made
presentations regarding GLCF activities, including one titled "Effective Integration of Satellite Imagery and GIS Technologies".
GLCF at the Federation of ESIPs Summer Meeting
GLCF team members participated in the summer meeting of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIPs),
in San Diego, CA, June 13-16, 2005. GLCF also participated in the tandem NASA Data Systems Working Group meeting,
over the same dates and location. Paul Davis from the GLCF presented development results for the Metrics
Performance and Reporting Working Group. Throughout the meeting, GLCF staff focused upon broadening the scope
of data sharing within and outside the Federation.
UNEP releases Atlas
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a major publication titled "One Planet,
Many People; An Atlas of Our Changing Environment". A PDF version of the Atlas and documentation
are available at their site: One Planet Many People. This represents a
significant investment in utilizing remotely sensed data to help explain global change processes to the general public.
The LEDAPS project is pleased to announce the release of a 30-meter resolution, atmospherically-corrected
surface reflectance product for North America. This "Beta" dataset includes over 2100 Landsat scenes, including
most of Canada, the contiguous United States, and Northern Mexico. Coverages for TM (centered on 1990) and ETM+
(centered on 2000) are included in this release to support change-detection applications.
The surface reflectance product is based on the GeoCover dataset produced by Earth Satellite Corporation under
contract to NASA (as available at the GLCF). Orthorectified Landsat images were calibrated (using revised Landsat-5 calibration coefficients
as necessary), converted to top-of-atmosphere reflectance, and atmospherically corrected to surface reflectance
using the MODIS/6S approach. Users may download data products via FTP, using either a map interface or by navigating the FTP archive directly:
Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive processing System-products
Also included is a "Beta" release of a Forest Disturbance product (1990-2000 stand clearing disturbance and regrowth)
for the Mid-Atlantic region:
Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive processing System-disturbance products . The disturbance product includes 30m resolution scene-based coverages
(11 path-rows), as well as 500m resolution Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area and 0.05 degree Geographic grids.
A wall-to-wall North American disturbance product will be released at the end of this year.
For more information about the LEDAPS project, please visit
Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive processing System-North America.
DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite operation, has made a major donation to the conservation community for
post-tsunami restoration. It was made through an IUCN member, Global Land Cover Facility(GLCF)
at the University of Maryland, for the use of IUCN members and partners worldwide on tsunami related work.
The collection includes over 100 scenes of parks and protected areas in the region. For more information please visit the
December 2004 Tsunami Portal.
See the IUCN-GLCF Joint Press Release
ASTER imagery is now available via the Earth Science Data Interface. The GLCF
team has made this happen so that users can search for this important data collection
in the same manner and in conjun ction with Landsat, MODIS or other products in the archive. ASTER is in GeoTIFF
format through the GLCF, and is free to anyone with access to FTP. For more
information about this product please visit the
ASTER data page
Principle 1: Open Access
The Conservation Commons promotes free and open access to data, information
and knowledge for conservation purposes.
Principle 2 Mutual Benefit
The Conservation Commons welcomes and encourages participants to both use
resources and to contribute data, information and knowledge.
Principle 3 Rights and Responsibilities
Contributors to the Conservation Commons have full right to attribution for
any uses of their data, information, or knowledge, and the right to ensure that
the original integrity of their contribution to the Commons is preserved.
Users of the Conservation Commons are expected to comply, in good faith,
The Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) data collection
is now available via FTP. The Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS)
normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data sets were generated to provide a
22-year satellite record of monthly changes in terrestrial vegetation. For more
information about this about this product please visit the
GIMMS data pages.
The Global Production Efficiency Model (GLoPEM) data collection is now
available via FTP. GLoPEM maps Net Primary Production (NPP), based on
AVHRR imagery, for use at the global, regional or local scale. Twenty
years of processed data are available as annual files or 10-day
increments. This product was developed at the University of Maryland,
Department of Geography, by Dr. Stephen Prince. For more information
about this product visit the GloPEM data pages.
GLCF team members participated in the first Earth Science Data Systems
(ESDS) meeting held in Greenbelt, Maryland. As NASA REASoN program participants,
the GLCF attends these meetings to collaborate with other REASoN projects toward
coordinating technologies used by NASA with research activities. Paul Davis,
Project Manager of the Global Land Cover Facility, participated as co-chair of
the Metrics Planning and Review Working Group, including a demonstration of the
REASoN Metrics Collection Tool.
The new version for the World Database on Protected Areas produced
by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) is now available via ESDI.
This dataset can be found in the "Product Search" section of ESDI.
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Data Available
GLCF now distributes user-ready editions of land surface topography data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
(SRTM). The addition of this data set will allow users to overlay traditional 2D satellite maps on elevation data to achieve a 3D
representation of the world. When used in conjunction with the GLCF's land cover change data, essentially a 4D representation of the
Earth surface through time can be achieved.
See the GLCF Press Release
AlphaPixel recently donated an open license for use of their PixelSense software to the University of
Maryland. PixelSense does not presume any image processing knowledge on behalf of the user. It is designed to run with
GLCF GeoCover data and easily output true color composites for use as base maps. The software is free to University
students and faculty. For others, a free demo version is available from the