US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



USGS- science for a changing world, pp. 1-13 (2002)


Multi-Resolution Land Characterization 2000 (MRLC 2000) is a second-generation federal consortium to create an updated pool of nation-wide Landsat 7 imagery, and derive a second-generation National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2000). This multi-layer, multisource database will include a suite of 30-meter resolution data that will serve as standardized ingredients for the production of land cover – both nationally and locally. This database will also provide the framework to allow flexibility in developing and applying suites of independent data layers. These nationally standardized independent data layers or components, will be useful not only within the land-cover classification but as data themes for other applications. This database will consist of the following components: (1) normalized tasseled cap (TC) transformations of Landsat 7 imagery for three time periods per scene (early, peak and late), (2) ancillary data layers, including 30m DEM derivatives of slope, aspect and elevation and three STATSCO soil derivatives, (4) image shape and texture information, (5) image derivatives of percent imperviousness and percent tree canopy per-pixel, (6) classified land-cover data derived from the Tassel Capped imagery, ancillary data and derivatives, (7) classification rules and metadata from the land cover classification, allowing future users the potential to modify rules to derive land cover products tailored to their specific local applications. In a pilot study application of the database concept, two mapping zones (Utah and Virginia) were selected for full generation of the above data components. Three derivative layers including, per-pixel imperviousness, per-pixel canopy and land cover were classified from the database. Cross validation accuracies for land cover ranged from 65-82%, and mean absolute error values of 10-15% were reported for percent tree canopy and imperviousness.