LCM2021 – the UK Land Cover Map 2021

Marston, Christopher G. ORCID:; O'Neil, Aneurin W. ORCID:; Morton, R. Daniel; Wood, Claire M. ORCID:; Rowland, Clare S. ORCID: 2023 LCM2021 – the UK Land Cover Map 2021. Earth System Science Data, 15 (10). 4631-4649.

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Land cover is a key environmental variable, underpinning widespread environmental research and decision-making. The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) have provided reliable land cover information since the early 1990’s; this supports multiple scientific, government and commercial objectives. Recent advances in computation and satellite data availability have enabled annual UKCEH land cover maps since 2017. Here we introduce the latest, annual UK Land Cover Map, representing 2021 (LCM2021) and describe its production and validation. LCM2021 methods replicate those for LCM2017 to LCM2020 with minor deviations to enhance accuracy. LCM2021 is based on the classification of satellite and spatial context data into 21 land cover/habitat classes, from which a product suite is derived. The production of LCM2021 involved three highly automated key stages: pre-processing of input data, image classification and production of the final data products. Google Earth Engine scripts were used to create an input data stack of satellite and context data. A set of training areas was created, based on data harvested from historic UKCEH land cover maps. The training data were used to construct a Random Forest classifier, which yielded classified images. Compiled results were validated against 35,182 reference samples, with correspondence tables indicating variable class accuracy and an overall accuracy of 82.6 % for the 21-class data and 86.5 % at a 10 aggregated-class level. •The UK Land Cover Map product suite includes a set of raster products in various projections, thematic and spatial resolutions (10 m, 25 m and 1 km), and land–parcel or vector products. The data are provided in 21-class (all configurations) and aggregated 10-class (1 km raster products only) versions. All raster products are freely available for academic and non-commercial research. The data for Great Britain (GB) are provided in the British National Grid projection (EPSG: 27700) and the Northern Ireland (NI) data are in the TM75 Irish Grid (EPSG: 29903). Information on how to access the data is given in the “Data availability” section of the paper.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1866-3516
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 07 Nov 2023 08:31 +0 (UTC)

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