Land Cover Overview

Land cover is a grid which assigns a code to each point in the data set based on occurs there.  It differs from land use, but obviously the two are related.  The code is normally a byte, and there are usually a few dozen categories.  They are created from satellite imagery such as Landsat or Sentinel-2, and due to clouds and collection schedules the imagery is usally from about a year in time.

WorldCover 10 m based on Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2

World cover viewer:

11 classes
2651 tiles, 3x3 degree tiles, EPSG 4326 (geographic)
Data access (login required):

Zanaga, D., Van De Kerchove, R., De Keersmaecker, W., Souverijns, N., Brockmann, C., Quast, R., Wevers, J., Grosu, A., Paccini, A., Vergnaud, S., Cartus, O., Santoro, M., Fritz, S., Georgieva, I., Lesiv, M., Carter, S., Herold, M., Li, Linlin, Tsendbazar, N.E., Ramoino, F., Arino, O., 2021. ESA WorldCover 10 m 2020 v100. 

<item color="#006400" alpha="255" value="10" label="Tree cover"/>
<item color="#ffbb22" alpha="255" value="20" label="Shrubland"/>
<item color="#ffff4c" alpha="255" value="30" label="Grassland"/>
<item color="#f096ff" alpha="255" value="40" label="Cropland"/>
<item color="#fa0000" alpha="255" value="50" label="Built-up"/>
<item color="#b4b4b4" alpha="255" value="60" label="Bare / sparse vegetation"/>
<item color="#f0f0f0" alpha="255" value="70" label="Snow and ice"/>
<item color="#0064c8" alpha="255" value="80" label="Permanent water bodies"/>
<item color="#0096a0" alpha="255" value="90" label="Herbaceous wetland"/>
<item color="#00cf75" alpha="255" value="95" label="Mangroves"/>
<item color="#fae6a0" alpha="255" value="100" label="Moss and lichen"/>
Copernicus Global Land Cover (GLC100)

This is the best globabally available data with 3.6" spacing (100 m) .
US NLCD 30 m pixels (2001 to 2016 every few years)

This is the best data for the CONUS


Extract from the MICRODEM database of landcover categeries.

  • Cateogory is the byte value stored in the grid.  In some case the first digit is a larger category, as in NLCD the 20's are all developed areas, and the one's digit has subcategories.
  • The color is normally assigned by the data set creator.
  • The long name

Other land cover data sets


Web viewer Copernicus Landcover from 1992 to 2015:,25.0000&zoom=4&opacity=80&

 Last revision 7/13/2021