Esri Releases New App to Easily View and Analyze Global Land-Cover Changes

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Insider Brief:

  • Esri has released a new online application, Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer.
  • The easy-access app leverages a web-based version of high-resolution global land-cover maps.
  • Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer makes visualizing and understanding satellite data more accessible for decision-makers.

PRESS RELEASE — Redlands, California / February 8, 2023 – Land Use / Land Cover (LULC) maps are an increasingly important tool for decision-makers at local, regional, and national government levels around the world. These maps help inform policy and land management decisions around issues like sustainability, by contextualizing and quantifying the impacts of earth processes and human activity on the environment.

Esri, the global leader in mapping and location intelligence, has now released a new online application, Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer. The app is structured around a web-based version of its own high-resolution global land-cover map, derived from European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. The app is easy to access and leverages the same geographic information system (GIS) technology behind the land-cover map. The app, map, and source Sentinel-2 imagery are all part of the company’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.

“GIS not only provides the capabilities necessary to produce and share data and maps such as LULC, it also enables users to derive and disseminate insights from such data,” said Sean Breyer, Esri program manager for ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. “Generating this information is foundational, and Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer will be invaluable for helping decision-makers unlock critical insights about land use, particularly as sustainability becomes a pressing global concern.”

Change analysis is fundamental to deeper understanding of LULC maps, and Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer provides various ways of detecting and reporting changes, including visual change analysis; statistical change analysis; visual change validation; and dynamic charts for percentage changes and trends over time. Other features offered by the app include the following:

  • Image services from ArcGIS Living Atlas
  • The ability to take data offline (download mode in the app)
  • Analysis tools in ArcGIS Online
  • ArcGIS developer tools and resources

In 2021, in partnership with Impact Observatory and Microsoft, Esri released the first artificial intelligence (AI)-generated global land-cover map. This subsequently evolved into the LULC annual time series map available today, which includes nine major land cover categories. Annual updates enable year-to-year comparisons for detecting shifts in vegetation and crops, forest extents, bare surfaces, and urban areas. With the recent addition of the 2022 update, the annual land cover time series now includes global coverage from 2017 through 2022.

Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer is a dynamic, ready-to-use application with an intuitive user experience. To explore the app online now, go to


Featured image: ArcGIS AllSource. Credit: Esri

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