Global and regional land cover characterization from satellite data: an introduction to the Special Issue
During the 1980s, pioneering research to map and monitor land cover at continental scales using data acquired by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer laid the foundation for the derivation of global and regional land cover products in the 1990s. This Special Issue highlights some of the achievements in the 1990s and indicates challenges and opportunities in the coming decade. The confluence of several factors creates the opportunity for major advancements in routine identification of land cover and land cover change from satellite data. These factors include: (1) the recognition of the need for land cover information to meet both scientific and policy objectives; (2) improved measurements from a suite of new sensors with greatly improved spatial and spectral resolutions and processing algorithms for atmospheric and other corrections; and (3) the availability of high performance computing resources and improved data analysis tools. These factors, along with an established pattern of international collaboration, will allow us to build on the last two decades' research leading toward operational systems for characterizing land cover from satellite data.