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Four 1 km global land cover products are currently available to the scientific community: the University of Maryland (UMD) global land cover product, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Data and Information System Cover (IGBP-DISCover), the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) global land cover product and Global Land Cover 2000 (GLC2000). Because of differences in data sources, temporal scales, classification systems and methodologies, it is important to compare and validate these global maps before using them for a variety of studies at regional to global scales. This study aimed to perform the validation and comparison of the four global land cover datasets, and to examine the suitability and accuracy of different coarse spatial resolution datasets in mapping and monitoring cropland across China. To meet this objective, we compared the four global land cover products with the National Land Cover Dataset 2000 (NLCD-2000) at three scales to evaluate the accuracy of estimates of aggregated cropland areas in China. This was followed by a spatial comparison to assess the accuracies of the four products in estimating the spatial distribution of cropland across China. A comparative analysis showed that there are varying levels of apparent discrepancies in estimating the cropland of China between these four global land cover datasets, and that both area totals and spatial (dis)agreement between them vary from region to region. Among these, the MODIS dataset has the best fit in depicting China's croplands. The coarse spatial resolution and the per pixel classification approach, as well as landscape heterogeneity, are the main reasons for the large discrepancies between the global land cover datasets tested and the reference data.
Centre for Spatial Information Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8505, Japan 2:
Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare, Florence I-50131, Italy 3:
Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Key Laboratory of Resources Remote Sensing and Digital Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100081, China