A comparison of the IGBP DISCover and University of Maryland 1 km global land cover products
Two global 1 km land cover data sets derived from 1992-1993 Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data are currently available, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Data and Information System (IGBP-DIS) DISCover and the University of Maryland (UMd) 1 km land cover maps. This paper makes a preliminary comparison of the methodologies and results of the two products. The DISCover methodology employed an unsupervised clustering classification scheme on a per-continent basis using 12 monthly maximum NDVI composites as inputs. The UMd approach employed a supervised classification tree method in which temporal metrics derived from all AVHRR bands and the NDVI were used to predict class membership across the entire globe. The DISCover map uses the IGBP classification scheme, while the UMd map employs a modified IGBP scheme minus the classes of permanent wetlands, cropland/natural vegetation mosaic and ice and snow. Global area totals of aggregated vegetation types are very similar and have a per-pixel agreement of 74%. For tall versus short/no vegetation, the per-pixel agreement is 84%. For broad vegetation types, core areas map similarly, while transition zones around core areas differ significantly. This results in high regional variability between the maps. Individual class agreement between the two 1 km maps is 49%. Comparison of the maps at a nominal 0.5 resolution with two global ground-based maps shows an improvement of thematic concurrency of 46% when viewing average class agreement. The absence of the cropland mosaic class creates a difficulty in comparing the maps, due to its significant extent in the DISCover map. The DISCover map, in general, has more forest, while the UMd map has considerably more area in the intermediate tree cover classes of woody savanna/ woodland and savanna/wooded grassland.