From the barren Sahara to lush jungles, the first high-resolution map classifying land cover types on the entire African continent has been released by the European Space Agency (ESA). This map was created using a year’s worth of data from the Sentinel-2A satellite and as can be seen it shows Africa’s diverse landscapes from grasslands to croplands, water bodies to deserts.
Land-cover mapping breaks down the different types of material on the Earth’s surface. This information is important for understanding changes in land use, modelling climate change extent and impacts, conserving biodiversity and managing natural resources.
The map released early in October comprises 180,000 Sentinel-2A images representing 90 terabytes of data captured between December 2015 and December 2016. Considering the size of the map – about six gigabytes – a web interface was developed to visualise the data.