The USGS is developing research-quality, applications-ready information products using historical, current, and future Landsat data. The terrestrial ECVs follow guidelines established through the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and represent specific geophysical and biophysical properties of the land surface (e.g. burned area and land cover). The science strategy focuses on development of these terrestrial variables using measurements collected by the Landsat TM and ETM+ instruments since 1982. This 30+ year record and 30-meter spatial resolution allow discrimination of natural and human-induced changes to the landscape.
USGS is undertaking the development of the following ECVs: global 30 meter land cover; burned area (surrogate for fire disturbance); dynamic surface water extent (proxy for lake variables); and snow covered area (a component of snow and ice cover).