Meta-discoveries from a synthesis of satellite-based land-cover mapping research

Le Yu, Lu Liang, Jie Wang, Yuanyuan Zhao, Qu Cheng, Luanyun Hu, Shuang Liu, Liang Yu, Xiaoyi Wang, Peng Zhu, Xueyan Li, Yue Xu, Congcong Li, Wei Fu, Xuecao Li, Wenyu Li, Caixia Liu, Na Cong, Han Zhang, Fangdi SunXinfang Bi, Qinchuan Xin, Dandan Li, Donghui Yan, Zhiliang Zhu, Michael F. Goodchild, Peng Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Since the launch of the first land-observation satellite (Landsat-1) in 1972, land-cover mapping has accumulated a wide range of knowledge in the peer-reviewed literature. However, this knowledge has never been comprehensively analysed for new discoveries. Here, we developed the first spatialized database of scientific literature in English about land-cover mapping. Using this database, we tried to identify the spatial temporal patterns and spatial hotspots of land-cover mapping research around the world. Among other findings, we observed (1) a significant mismatch between hotspot areas of land-cover mapping and areas that are either hard to map or rich in biodiversity; (2) mapping frequency is positively related to economic conditions; (3) there is no obvious temporal trend showing improvement in mapping accuracy; (4) images with more spectral bands or a combination of data types resulted in increased mapping accuracies; (5) accuracy differences due to algorithm differences are not as large as those due to various types of data used; and (6) the complexity of a classification system decreases its mapping accuracy. We recommend that one way to improve our understanding of the challenges, advances, and applications of previous land-cover mapping is for journals to require area-based information at the time of manuscript submission. In addition, building a standard protocol for systematic assessment of land-cover mapping efforts at the global scale through international collaboration is badly needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4573-4588
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Meta-discoveries from a synthesis of satellite-based land-cover mapping research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this