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New NASA satellite-generated land cover maps are providing scientists with a detailed picture of the distribution of Earths ecosystems and land use Scientists can better determine how vegetation is distributed and land is being used around the world with new NASA satellite-generated land-cover maps. These new maps, based on a global digital database of land cover types Earth images that is updated every 16 days, will help scientists better understand the Earths climate and carbon budget and climate, through closer monitoring of water and land resources, including forested and agricultural areas. These land-coverland cover maps were developed at Boston University in Boston, MA, using data from the Moderate-resolution Imaging -Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboardon NASAs Terra satellite. The prototype MODIS maps were created with data acquired between July and December 2000; but future maps will utilize one year of data. Advances in remote sensing technology allow MODIS to collect higher-quality data than previous sensors, yielding the most detailed land cover classification maps to date. The new maps are better because the quality of MODIS data is much higher than AVHRR data. They are also more current because the information content of MODIS data allowed scientists to exploit more efficient automated methods for categorizing land cover than was were previously possible, reducing the time to generate maps from months or years to about one week. Each MODIS land-coverland cover map contains 17 different land cover types, differentiating among eleven natural vegetation types such as deciduous and evergreen forests, savannas, grasslands, permanent wetlands and shrublands. Agricultural land use , as well as, several categories of land surfaces with little or no plant cover -- such as bare ground, urban areas and permanent snow and ice -- are also depicted in the maps. The data product is available at (http:--edcdaac.nasa.gov)
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