With an ever-changing environment the need for accurate, timely and high-resolution information on land use/land cover and its changes has increased tremendously over the past years. Until now however, regional or continental land cover maps were solely based on high resolution optical earth observation data such as Sentinel-2 or Landsat while the use of SAR data such as Sentinel-1 in the production of large area land cover maps is still in its infancy.
For this purpose, the European Space Agency (ESA) initiated the WorldCover project which will release (October 2021) a freely accessible global land cover product at 10 m resolution for 2020, based on both Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data. The WorldCover project, part of the 5th Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP-5), had the objective to produce, deliver and validate, as fast as possible, a global 10 meter resolution land cover (LC) map of the world within 3 months of the last data acquisition with a minimum of 10 land cover classes and a minimum overall accuracy of 75%.
A crucial aspect for WorldCover was the involvement of several end users active in different domains who provided primary input for all engineering aspects and followed the whole project workflow from design up to validation and uptake. Consequently, WorldCover intends to provide a substantial benefit to various user communities and expands the established global land cover base of users and the development of novel services.