World Cover aims to produce, deliver and validate, as fast as possible, a global land cover map at 10m resolution with a mapping of a minimum of 10 land cover classes and a minimum overall accuracy of 75%. The project is user driven, aiming at a maximum impact of the global land cover map to a set of end-user organizations.

WCoverlogo © IIASA

The World Cover project will deliver to public the first validated land cover map of the entire globe at 10m resolution, based on Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data. By doing so, World Cover has the ambition to establish a new baseline global land cover product that is developed and validated in almost near-real time and at the same time maximizes the impact and uptake for the end users. For this purpose, key end-users like CIFORFAOOECDUNCCDWRI and multiple associate users are an integral part of the project and follow the whole workflow from design up to validation and uptake. Consequently, World Cover intends to provide a substantial benefit to various user communities. to expand the established global land cover base of users and the development of novel services. 

Besides a strong focus on users, World Cover will furthermore represent a tremendous step forward towards the joint use of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data for worldwide land cover mapping. With Sentinel-1 and 2 now being at full capacity, World Cover will provide the ideal base to explore the synergetic use of Sentinel-1 and 2 at global scale for land cover mapping and result in a major step forward for both related science and services.

World Cover 10% prototype map © ESA World Cover
World Cover 10% prototype map

The project is organized in two phases. The main goal of the 1st Phase of World Cover was to produce a prototype map over 27 macro-regions covering 10% of the earth’s land surface. The exact locations of the 27 macro-regions were selected based on the following criteria: user preference (i.e. areas of interest for the key users), diversity in ecosystem type and variation in cloud cover. At an open World Cover webinar the 10% World Cover prototype maps were presented and details about the methods for training data collection and validation of the map were provided. 

The main goal of the 2nd Phase of the World Cover project is to produce the final global land cover map at a 10-meter resolution. Afterwards an internal validation process will take place, where key users and the World Cover consortium will provide feedback on the maps’ usability and quality within a fixed timescale. Once all feedback has been collected, an internal final review meeting is foreseen to take place in October 2021, where the gathered feedback will be presented. Next, a public webinar is planned in October 2021 where the map will be presented to different end user communities.

As a key research partner in this project, IIASA is responsible for coordinating and consolidating user requirements for all the EO products and services of World Cover, actively engaging users in the development of product specifications, collecting user feedback, consulting on the limitation of the final product. Furthermore, IIASA is involved in providing training data, providing tools to collect validation data, map production, developing spatial accuracy layer of the final product and the distribution of the final product to end-users/product delivery.

World Cover Release Webinar 20 October, 2021 at 15:00 CET

Two years after its official kick-off the WorldCover team is ready to release the first global land cover map at 10 m resolution based on Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1 data. Join us 20 October at 15:00 CET for a webinar and learn how to access this new open and free product. The consortium will be available to interact with the participants, discuss the technical specifications of the product, answer specific questions and share feedback. Register here!