The NELDA (Northern Eurasia Land Dynamics Analysis) project seeks to harness NASA remote sensing technology and local knowledge of land-cover conditions to validate and improve land cover and land-cover change products for Northern Eurasia.


Given the importance of Northern Eurasia for global ecosystem and climate processes, improved characterization of land cover and land-cover change in the region is a scientific priority. While multiple moderate and coarse-resolution land-cover products have been developed, their validation remains a challenge, particularly for boreal and temperate Northern Eurasia where validation sites are sparse, several land-cover types are unique, and processes of ecosystem disturbance and land-cover change are widespread, including fire, timber harvest, insect outbreaks, agricultural conversion and abandonment, melting permafrost, and forest regrowth.


NELDA builds on a network of test sites and time series of Landsat-resolution imagery to analyze land cover and land-cover change across Northern Eurasia. To develop maps at test sites we rely on recent and ongoing projects and regional collaborators with local experience in land cover mapping and change monitoring. The higher spatial resolution maps from the test sites are used to validate current global land cover products. NELDA will also develop a new land cover map for Northern Eurasia based on MODIS data from 2005 at 500-m spatial resolution. To ensure consistent and comparable representation of land cover NELDA developed a legend in line with the FAO Land Cover Classification System.

Principal Investigator

Co-Investigators and collaborators - US-based

Collaborators based in Northern Eurasia

  • Egor Dyukarev - Institute of Monitoring of Climatic and Ecological Systems, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Tomsk, Russia
  • Vladimir Elsakov - Syktyvkar, Institute of Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Slava Kharuk - Krasnoyarsk, Institute of Forest of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Tobias Kuemmerle - Berlin, Humboldt-University of Berlin
  • Alexey Terekhov - Almaty, Kazakhstan, National Center of Space Research and Technologies
  • Tsolmon Renchin - NUM-ITC-UNESCO Remote Sensing/GIS Laboratory, The National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Eldar Kurbanov, Yoshkar Ola, Mari State Technical University, Mari El Republic, Russia


NELDA project and successor NELDA II project were supported by NASA-LCLUC Program in 2005-14 to monitor and validate the distribution and change in land cover across Northern Eurasia.


  • Sulla-Menashe, D., Kennedy, R.E., Yang, Z., Braaten, J., Krankina, O.N., & Friedl, M.A. 2014. Detecting forest disturbance in the Pacific Northwest from MODIS time series using temporal segmentation. Remote Sensing of Environment (in press). Available online 7 November 2013, ISSN 0034-4257, URL
  • Bergen, KM, Hitztaler, S, Kharuk, V, Krankina, ON, Zhao, T, Loboda, T and Sun, G 2012. Human dimensions of environmental change in Siberia (pp. 251-302). In: Gutman, G and Groisman, P (eds) Regional Environmental Changes in Siberia and Their Global Consequences. Springer Environmental Science and Engineering, Springer Netherlands.
  • Loboda, T., Krankina, O., Kurbanov, E. 2012 Understanding Origins and Impacts of Drought (Impacts of Extreme Weather on Natural, Socio-economic, and Land-Use Systems: Focus on the 2010 Summer Anomaly in the Volga Region; Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, 17–21 June 2012). Eos, Vol. 93, No. 42, 16 October 2012 (Page 417)
  • O. Krankina. “Mapping of land cover and its changes across the Northern Eurasia using remote sensing data”. NEESPI Regional Workshop: “Hydrological consequences of changes in climate and land cover across Northern Eurasia” and Extended Project Meeting for NASA project: “Northern Eurasian Landscapes: Interactions among Humans, Hydrology, Land Cover and Land Use”, February, 7-8, 2012. State Hydrological Institute, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
  • Pflugmacher, D., Krankina, O.N., Cohen, W.B., Friedl, M.A., Sulla-Menashe, D., Kennedy, R.E, Nelson, P., Loboda, T.V., Kuemmerle, T., Dyukarev, E., Elsakov, V., Kharuk, V.I. 2011. Comparison and Assessment of Coarse Resolution Land Cover Maps for Northern Eurasia. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 3539-3553
  • Sulla-Menashe, D., M. Friedl, O. Krankina, A. Baccini, C. Woodcock, A. Sibley, G. Sun, V. Kharuk, V. Elsakov 2011. Hierarchical Mapping of Northern Eurasian Land Cover Using MODIS. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 392-403
  • O. Krankina and M. Yatskov. “Disturbance History, Age Structure, Carbon Balance and Timber Supply in Forest Landscapes of Russia” The 15th Scientific Conference of the International Boreal Forest Research Association (IBFRA), August 15-21 2011, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
  • O. Krankina and D. Pflugmacher. “Findings from Example Product Intercomparison Studies in Northern Eurasia: application of methods and data from NELDA Project”. Workshop on Characterizing and Validating Global Agricultural Landcover, IIASA Conference Center, Laxenburg, Austria, 13-15 June 2011
  • Krankina, O.N., D. Pflugmacher, D. Hayes, A.D. McGuire, M. Hansen, T. Häme, V. Elsakov, P. Nelson 2011. Vegetation Cover in the Eurasian Arctic: Distribution, Monitoring, and Role in Carbon Cycling. In: G. Gutman and A. Reissell (Eds.) Eurasian Arctic Land Cover and Land Use in a Changing Climate. Springer-Netherlands. pp.79-108
  • Loboda, T., Justice, C., Gutman, G., Spivak, L., Krankina, O., Muratova, N., 2010. Meeting report from the Joint NASA LCLUC Science Team Meeting and GOFC-GOLD/NERIN, NEESPI, MAIRS Workshop “Monitoring Land Cover, Land Use and Fire in Agricultural and Semi-arid Regions of Northern Eurasia”. The Earth Observer 22(1):14 -17.
  • Krankina, O.N., D. Pflugmacher, M. Friedl, W. B. Cohen, P. Nelson, and A. Baccini. 2008. Meeting the challenge of mapping peatlands with remotely sensed data. Biogeosciences 5 (6): 1809-1820 URL
  • Krankina, O.N., Pflugmacher, D., Cohen, W., Kennedy, R., Nelson, P., Loboda, T. Land Cover of Northern Eurasia: Comparison and Assessment of Coarse Resolution Maps AGU Fall Meeting, Dec. 10-14, 2007 (oral presentation)
  • Ping Zhang, Jeffery Masek, Olga Krankina. Continental Mapping of Northern Eurasia Forest Disturbance Using MODIS Products. AGU Fall Meeting, Dec. 10-14, 2007 (poster presentation)
  • Houghton, R.A., Butman, D., Bunn, A., Krankina, O.N., Schlesinger, P., Stone,T.A. 2007. Mapping Russian Forest Biomass with Data from Satellites and Forest Inventories. Environmental Research Letters 2 (045032): 7 pp. URL
  • Krankina, O.N., K.C. McDonald, M. Friedl, W.B. Cohen, Pflugmacher, D., P. Nelson, A Baccini. The Challenge of Mapping Peatlands and the Potential of Remotely Sensed Data. Symposium on Carbon in Peatlands, Wageningen, the Netherlands, 15-18 April, 2007 (oral presentation)
  • Pflugmacher, D., O.N. Krankina, W.B. Cohen. 2007. Satellite-based peatland mapping: Potential of the MODIS sensor. Global and Planetary Change 56 (3-4): 248-257.


Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory