Land cover is classified over East Asia using 250-m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface reflectance, MODIS snow cover and Operational Linescan System (OLS) human settlement data. The classification method includes a decision tree classification scheme that considers 11 kinds of land surface features derived from the OLS product and the time series of two MODIS products in 2000. The decision tree was defined manually based on the experiment because of insufficient training data, ease of tuning by visual interpretation, and extensibility to further research. The resulting classification is compared to three kinds of reference data, i.e. MODIS land cover product, Chinese digital land cover map, and Chinese census. The land cover classification can be input into a hydrological model applied to the Yellow River in China.