Comparison of MODIS-derived land surface temperature with air temperature measurements

Georgiou A., Akcit N.

5th International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of the Environment (RSCy), Paphos, CYPRUS, 20 - 23 March 2017, vol.10444 identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 10444
  • Doi Number: 10.1117/12.2279339
  • City: Paphos
  • Country: CYPRUS
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Air surface temperature is an important parameter for a wide range of applications such as agriculture, hydrology and climate change studies. Air temperature data is usually obtained from measurements made in meteorological stations, providing only limited information about spatial patterns over wide areas. The use of remote sensing data can help overcome this problem, particularly in areas with low station density, having the potential to improve the estimation of air surface temperature at both regional and global scales. Land Surface (skin) Temperatures (LST) derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard the Terra and Aqua satellite platforms provide spatial estimates of near-surface temperature values. In this study, LST values from MODIS are compared to groundbased near surface air (T-air) measurements obtained from 14 observational stations during 2011 to 2015, covering coastal, mountainous and urban areas over Cyprus. Combining Terra and Aqua LST-8 Day and Night acquisitions into a mean monthly value, provide a large number of LST observations and a better overall agreement with T-air. Comparison between mean monthly LSTs and mean monthly Tair for all sites and all seasons pooled together yields a very high correlation and biases. In addition, the presented high standard deviation can be explained by the influence of surface heterogeneity within MODIS 1km(2) grid cells, the presence of undetected clouds and the inherent difference between LST and T-air. However, MODIS LST data proved to be a reliable proxy for surface temperature and mostly for studies requiring temperature reconstruction in areas with lack of observational stations.