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News New portrait of Earth shows land cover as never before

A new global portrait taken from space details Earth’s land cover with a resolution never before obtained. ESA, in partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, presented the preliminary version of the map to scientists last week at the 2nd GlobCover User Consultation workshop held in Rome, Italy.

Earth’s land cover has been charted from space before, but this map, which will be made available to the public upon its completion in July, has a resolution 10 times sharper than any of its predecessors.

Scientists, who will use the data to plot worldwide land-cover trends, study natural and managed ecosystems and to model climate change extent and impacts, are hailing the product – generated under the ESA-initiated GlobCover project – as 'a milestone.'

There are 22 different land cover types shown in the map, including croplands, wetlands, forests, artificial surfaces, water bodies and permanent snow and ice. For maximum user benefit, the map’s thematic legend is compatible with the UN Land Cover Classification System (LCCS).

GlobCover, launched in 2005, is part of ESA’s Earth Observation Data User Element (DUE). An international network of partners is working with ESA on the project, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), FAO, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Global Observations of Forest Cover and Global Observations of Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) Implementation Team Project Office.

For more information about GlobCover products and their availability, please visit the GlobCover website.

Contact information Patrice Bicheron, Project Manager, MEDIAS-France: 18, avenue E. Belin, CNES bpi 2102, 31 401 Toulouse Cedex 9, FRANCE/ Olivier Arino, Technical Officer, European Space Agency - ESRIN D/EOP-SEP, Via Galileo Galilei C.P.94, I-00044 Frascati (RM), ITALY (email: ;
Phone: +33 5 61 27 42 43 ; Fax: 33 5 61 28 29 05 / +39 06-941.80564 ; Fax: +39 06-941.80552
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information ESA (European Space Agency)
Keyword(s) land cover, wetlands, water bodies, MERIS
Geographical coverage Europe, International
News date 17/03/2008
Working language(s) ENGLISH