Copernicus global land cover layers-collection 2

Marcel Buchhorn*, Myroslava Lesiv, Nandin Erdene Tsendbazar, Martin Herold, Luc Bertels, Bruno Smets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


In May 2019, Collection 2 of the Copernicus Global Land Cover layers was released. Next to a global discrete land cover map at 100 m resolution, a set of cover fraction layers is provided depicting the percentual cover of the main land cover types in a pixel. This additional continuous classification scheme represents areas of heterogeneous land cover better than the standard discrete classification scheme. Overall, 20 layers are provided which allow customization of land cover maps to specific user needs or applications (e.g., forest monitoring, crop monitoring, biodiversity and conservation, climate modeling, etc.). However, Collection 2 was not just a global up-scaling, but also includes major improvements in the map quality, reaching around 80% or more overall accuracy. The processing system went into operational status allowing annual updates on a global scale with an additional implemented training and validation data collection system. In this paper, we provide an overview of the major changes in the production of the land cover maps, that have led to this increased accuracy, including aligning with the Sentinel 2 satellite system in the grid and coordinate system, improving the metric extraction, adding better auxiliary data, improving the biome delineations, as well as enhancing the expert rules. An independent validation exercise confirmed the improved classification results. In addition to the methodological improvements, this paper also provides an overview of where the different resources can be found, including access channels to the product layer as well as the detailed peer-review product documentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1044
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020


  • Copernicus
  • Cover fractions
  • Global land cover mapping
  • Land use/cover classification
  • Random forest
  • Remote sensing
  • Time series analysis

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