A GLOBE Collaboration to Develop Land Cover Data Collection and Analysis Protocols
Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) is an international environmental education and science partnership which coordinates the work of students (aged 5 to 18), teachers and scientists from 48 countries on five continents to study and better understand the global environment. Accurate ground reference data is fundamental to the use of remotely sensed data for land cover classification and mapping. Because very little ground reference data has been collected, the accuracy of many land cover maps may be questioned, thus accurate land cover ground reference data is an important need that could be addressed through GLOBE scientist-student collaboration. If earth systems scientists are to use student data, it is important that those data be as accurate as possible to ensure reliability of research results. Thus a key question for this research is whether student collected data are accurate enough to support rigorous scientific investigations. This paper describes results of the GLOBE Science-Education Team on Data Validation and Accuracy Assessment's collaboration with teachers and students to: (1) design and test the pre-protocol learning activities; (2) test the protocols intended to guide the collection and analysis of data; and (3) implement the learning activities and protocols to determine the relative accuracy of student collected versus professionally collected land cover data. To ensure the most accurate classification of land cover possible, a new international hierarchical land cover classification system, the Modified Unesco Classification (MUC) system was developed. GLOBE Data Collection Protocols and methods were designed and implemented to test the accuracy of student collected reference data were designed and implemented. Students who collected land cover reference data using GLOBE protocols, obtained data which are at least as accurate as that collected by professionals.
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