USGS tests land cover analysis app

The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a preview version of an application that enables the analysis of how land cover has changed over time.

The Land Cover Visualization and Analysis Tool is a web-based system with an intuitive interface that allows users to selectively view and analyze land cover data using any web browser. It is designed for novice as well as expert users.

The land cover analysis application was developed under contract with eSpatial Solutions Ltd using the company's iSMART software.

USGS is soliciting users to evaluate the preview release of the application. The full Land Cover Visualization and Analysis Tool will be released this summer, USGS officials said.

Changes in land cover can be shaped by natural processes and human influences. A broad range of professionals need information about land cover'including managers of public and private lands, urban planners, agricultural experts and scientists'for the study of issues such as climate change or invasive species.

The new application allows users to:
  • Access land cover data for any area in the United States from any web browser without the need for specialized geographical information system software
  • Filter specific land cover classes for specific time periods, such as viewing all urban or forest areas in 1990
  • Clip selected areas by political, natural or user-defined boundaries and
  • Calculate land cover statistics within selected areas and generate simple reports.

A future version of the application will potentially be able to serve the data as a web service to external applications without the need for those applications to store and manage data locally. USGS officials said this should improve information sharing between federal agencies and reduce redundant data collections.

Other agencies participated in the development of the tool as part of a national consortium. These agencies included the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Forest Service, NASA and the Bureau of Land Management.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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