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A mono-window algorithm for retrieving land surface temperature from Landsat TM data and its application to the Israel-Egypt border region

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Remote sensing of land surface temperature (LST) from the thermal band data of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) still remains unused in comparison with the extensive studies of its visible and near-infrared (NIR) bands for various applications. The brightness temperature can be computed from the digital number (DN) of TM6 data using the equation provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). However, a proper algorithm for retrieving LST from the only one thermal band of the sensor still remains unavailable due to many difficulties in the atmospheric correction. Based on thermal radiance transfer equation, an attempt has been made in the paper to develop a mono-window algorithm for retrieving LST from Landsat TM6 data. Three parameters are required for the algorithm: emissivity, transmittance and effective mean atmospheric temperature. Method about determination of atmospheric transmittance is given in the paper through the simulation of atmospheric conditions with LOWTRAN 7 program. A practicable approach of estimating effective mean atmospheric temperature from local meteorological observation is also proposed in the paper when the in situ atmospheric profile data is unavailable at the satellite pass, which is generally the case in the real world especially for the images in the past. Sensitivity analysis of the algorithm indicates that the possible error of ground emissivity, which is difficult to estimate, has relatively insignificant impact on the probable LST estimation error T, which is sensible to the possible error of transmittance 6 and mean atmospheric temperature Ta. Validation of the simulated data for various situations of seven typical atmospheres indicates that the algorithm is able to provide an accurate LST retrieval from TM6 data. The LST difference between the retrieved and the simulated ones is less than 0.4°C for most situations. Application of the algorithm to the sand dunes across the Israel-Egypt border results in a reasonable LST estimation of the region. Based on this LST estimation, spatial variation of the interesting thermal phenomenon has been analysed for comparison of LST difference across the border. The result shows that the Israeli side does have significantly higher surface temperature in spite of its denser vegetation cover than the Egyptian side where bare sand is prevalent.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 15, 2001

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