Over last two decades, numerous studies have used remotely sensed data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensors to map land use and land cover at large spatial scales, but achieved only limited success. In this paper, we employed an approach that combines both AVHRR images and geophysical datasets (e.g. climate, elevation). Three geophysical datasets are used in this study: annual mean temperature, annual precipitation, and elevation. We first divide China into nine bio-climatic regions, using the long-term mean climate data. For each of nine regions, the three geophysical data layers are stacked together with AVHRR data and AVHRR-derived vegetation index (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data, and the resultant multi-source datasets were then analysed to generate land-cover maps for individual regions, using supervised classification algorithms. The nine land-cover maps for individual regions were assembled together for China. The existing land-cover dataset derived from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images was used to assess the accuracy of the classification that is based on AVHRR and geophysical data. Accuracy of individual regions varies from 73% to 89%, with an overall accuracy of 81% for China. The results showed that the methodology used in this study is, in general, feasible for large-scale land-cover mapping in China.
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