Goals and Background

Introduction and Strategy Overview

The Land-Cover/Land-Use Change Program (LCLUC) Program was initiated as a cross-cutting scientific research theme within NASA’s Earth Science. It currently falls within NASA’s Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Focus Research Area, although aspects of land cover and land use research can be found throughout the Earth Science Program, albeit with an emphasis on aspects of the program element under which they are funded e.g. hydrology, biodiversity, carbon cycle or biogeochemistry. LCLUC related research could also be found in the Earth Science interdisciplinary studies (IDS), the NASA Applications Program and in various program data initiatives such as the ESIPS, ACCESS and REASONS. In addition LCLUC research is undertaken in NASA Education Program, through its New Investigator Program (NIP) and graduate level, NASA Earth System Science Fellowships (NESSF). A major challenge for the LCLUC program management is to pull together the various land-cover and land-use research activities from the various programs and help the science community to be aware of the different projects and science results that are being generated in different parts of the program. To this end and since its inception, the program has held annual science team meetings both for scientists funded directly by LCLUC and those undertaking LCLUC research in other parts of the NASA Program to come together and share their findings.


The LCLUC Program has a special place in NASA’s Earth Science, in developing interdisciplinary science with a high level of societal relevance. To this end, LCLUC is developing a partnership with the Applications Program which can apply the LCLUC scientific findings to address natural resource management questions, starting with agricultural land use change.

Goals and Background

At the interagency level and as part of the USGCRP, LCLUC is contributing directly to interagency cooperation through the USGCRP (formerly US CCSP) Land Use Land Cover Change (LULCC) Research Element and the related Carbon, Hydrology and Climate Research Elements.  NASA LCLUC is already addressing questions being raised by the new initiatives on Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation. Over the years, partnerships have been developed with other agencies such as USGS, USFS, USDA and USAID. Scientists from the USFS and USGS are often funded by the LCLUC program through the programs peer-reviewed competitive process. A partnership activity has recently been developed with the USGS around the Global Land Survey (GLS) 2005 and 2010 in providing global orthorectified Landsat-class data. This project is contributing directly to the international GEOSS program. The program has also been supporting a Direct Broadcast initiative at the Goddard Spaceflight Center, which has close partnerships with the NPOESS Integrated Program Office (IPO).  The program management is interested in continuing to strengthen interagency and international collaboration on data and research to further our understanding of land cover and land use change.

LCLUC is a global program: global satellite-derived data sets are developed through this program and process and modeling studies are funded in various regions of the World. Involvement of regional scientists in our research projects is strongly encouraged, both to strengthen the studies through the input of regional expertise but also to enhance regional scientist’s access NASA assets and policy-makers to benefit from the scientific results and data initiatives. The LCLUC Program has contributed to NASA’s regional experiments, such as the Larger Basin experiment for the Amazon (LBA) and the North American Carbon Program (NACP) and USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE). LCLUC has been instrumental in the development of a number of other integrated regional science programs. In particular the integrated land use projects of the LCLUC Program helped significantly with the early development Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI) and the expansion of the Monsoon Asia Integrated Research Study (MAIRS) Program beyond China.

At the international program level the LCLUC program is aligned with the scientific goals of the IGBP/IHDP Global Land Project (GLP) and the Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS) and a number of contributory projects to those programs are funded by LCLUC. The LCLUC program is a major contributor to the international Global Observation of Forest Cover – Global Observation of Landcover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) program which is part of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). In particular LCLUC has benefited from and contributed to the GOFC-GOLD Regional Networks. GOFC-GOLD is contributing directly to the GEOSS Program. The LCLUC Program also supports the Fire Project Office of GOFC-GOLD and is contributing to the Land Product Validation (LPV) Working Group of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS).