Based on satellite data from the European Copernicus satellites, VITO calculated the land cover worldwide up to 100m in detail. Nazka then translated these data into a clear, interactive map. In the summer of 2020, a new release came with a number of important adjustments:
- The global map was enriched with annual land use for 2016 through 2019. You can switch between the years in the Layers panel (top left) or next to the legend (bottom right).
- The zoom level has been increased to allow you to explore the maps in great detail.
- Additional annual layers are shown, including the binary occurrence of land cover changes and change processes. In addition, the change layer can be displayed for a single year or cumulatively for all years up to the selected year.
- In the side panel of the statistics it is possible to select and compare between countries, regions within countries and years.
- It is possible to download individual map layers.
The importance of information on land cover and land use
Land cover is important information to monitor climate change, among other things. After all, more than 25% of our global emissions depend on our land use. For example, it is crucial that we monitor how we use land and where we need to intervene. Conversely, climate change also puts strong pressure on our land use. For example, desertification caused by climate change is a major problem in many regions, putting pressure on large groups of people. Keeping an eye on these evolutions is therefore crucial, and earth observation via satellites plays a crucial role in this.
Conflicts often have an even more drastic impact on land use and land cover. When we zoom into Syria, we see an impressive resurgence of Cropland in areas where war has ended.
All data is freely available for download
The land cover viewer allows you to download all data for further use. With this new release it is also possible to download individual layers for all years. The land cover viewer is part of the Copernicus Global Land Service, which offers a range of biophysical variables describing the state and evolution of vegetation, energy budget, water cycle and cryosphere over the land surface on a global scale.
Our mission at nazka is to present complex data, such as that of VITO, in a comprehensive way. This makes the data accessible to everyone, from policy makers and scientists to citizens and the media.
More information about the Global Land Cover Viewer can be found at https://lcviewer.vito.be/about.