Carrao, H, Araujo, A, Goncalves, P, Caetano, M (2010). Multitemporal MERIS images for land-cover mapping at a national scale: a case study of Portugal. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 31(8), 2063-2082.
Medium-spatial-resolution satellite images have already proved to be successful in automatic production of global land-cover maps. However, their operational use for land-cover mapping at a national scale has not yet been well established. We find that the reasons for this are not data-source dependent, but are due to the land-cover nomenclatures properties adopted, regional landscape specificities and the methodological approaches used. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the suitability for national applications of land-cover maps derived from automatic classification of medium-spatial-resolution satellite images. To tackle this issue, we produce a land-cover map of Continental Portugal from multitemporal MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) full-resolution satellite images of 2005 and evaluate its accuracy. For the accuracy assessment of the final map, we compute unbiased estimates of overall, user and producer accuracies using an independent testing sample collected through a stratified random sampling design. The overall accuracy of the final map is 80%, with an absolute precision of 2% at the 95% confidence level. High independent accuracy assessment results demonstrate that medium-spatial-resolution satellite images can be used on an operational basis for annual production of land-cover maps suitable for national applications.