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USGS - science for a changing world

Global Land Cover Characterization

Global Land Cover Characteristics Database FAQ's

The land cover data are provided in a generic image array format (flat, headerless, binary raster data) to maximize the flexibility for importing into a variety of software systems. We do not provide the software necessary to view or analyze these data. There are many geographic information system and image processing packages available, and they commonly include modules to import generic raster data. To import, the user commonly needs to identify the size of the raster array (that is, number of lines or rows and number of samples or columns). That information is found in the documentation. If you are interested in color graphics created from the land cover data base, a number of GIF and JPG files are available on Download Graphics page.


If you are having problems viewing or importing the 1-km DEM imagery, some of the answers might be found in the Global 30 Arc Second Elevation Data Set readme.


The procedure for importing these raster image files into ArcInfo is as follows 1:

  1. Rename the image file to filename.bsq.
  2. Prepare an ascii file, named filename.hdr. The file should look something like the following example .hdr file, except the number rows and columns and the x and y coordinates will vary according to the image data. Those image parameters can be found in the documentation for each of the continental data bases.
    Image BSQ header file
    nrows 2889
    ncols 4587
    nbands 1
    nbits 8
    layout bsq
    skipbytes 0
    ulxmap -987549.963
    ulymap 600868.288
    xdim 1000
    ydim 1000
  3. Use the IMAGEGRID command to create a grid file from the image data. Use PROJECTDEFINE to attach the appropriate projection information to the grid. The documentation for each continental data base contains the required projection information.
  4. Further information can be found in the ArcInfo help pages under:
    • Heading: Cartography
    • Subhead: Image integration
    • Subhead: BIL, BIP and BSQ data

1 This is not an endorsement of the ArcInfo software.

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Page Last Modified: February 29, 2012