USGS landcover predictions

New USGS predictions of historic landcover change simplified to only show agriculture (orange), urban (red), and open water (blue).

As part of a larger carbon modeling project, USGS recently released yearly landcover predictions going back to 1938. It provides a really interesting view into our heavily agricultural past and a time without the many reservoirs we’re all so used to seeing. The data are 250m pixels and they miss a number of smaller embedded features, like wetlands, but it’s the most detailed look at pre-1970s landcover I’ve seen. Hat tip to Jon Oetting, from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, for mentioning these new predictions.

There’s a metadata file in the download that tells you about each of the classes. Here’s a quick reference since there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get that info other than digging through the metadata

“1” Water
“2” Developed
“3” – Intentionally Left Blank –
“4” – Intentionally Left Blank –
“5” – Intentionally Left Blank –
“6” Mining
“7” Barren
“8” Deciduous Forest
“9” Evergreen Forest
“10” Mixed Forest
“11” Grassland
“12” Shrubland
“13” Cultivated Cropland
“14” Hay/Pasture land
“15” Herbaceous Wetland
“16” Woody Wetland
“17” Perennial Ice/Snow