USGS pilots app for analyzing land cover

SHAPE OF THINGS: USGS, with other agencies, keeps track of changes in the country's surface features.

The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a preview version of a tool for analyzing how land cover ' such as land, water, vegetation and artificial structures ' has changed over time.

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

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

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

Natural processes and human influences can shape changes in land cover. A broad range of professionals ' including managers of public and private lands, urban planners, agricultural experts and scientists ' need information about land cover to study issues such as climate change or invasive species.

The new application lets users:

  • Access land cover data for any area in the United States from any Web browser without the need for specialized geographic 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.
  • 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 among federal agencies and reduce redundant data collections.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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