The middle infrared (MIR) spectral region, between 3.0 and 5.0 µm in the electromagnetic spectrum, features a myriad of atmospheric windows. The favourable atmospheric penetration of electromagnetic radiation at MIR wavelengths has been readily noted. To exploit this atmospheric window, there have been several remote sensing instruments acquiring radiation from the terrestrial environment. However, these data remain under-utilized for terrestrial environmental studies. The principal reason for this is the hybrid nature of this spectral region, as it comprises a combination of both reflected and emitted radiation during daytime measurement. Despite this, there are many attributes of the MIR spectral region that should encourage its use. Studies focusing on a wide range of terrestrial environment characteristics using MIR radiation have advocated that these data be used. Moreover, there has been a progressive maturation of the methods for processing the radiation acquired by instruments in the MIR spectral region, allowing the informed use of the unique information provided by this part of the spectrum. In particular, these methods have allowed the retrieval of MIR reflectance from the full MIR radiation acquired by a sensor and this information has been demonstrated to be particularly useful for the study of the terrestrial environment and its change. It would appear that the full potential of MIR radiation is unrealized. This paper is a review that aims to motivate and advise of future research using MIR radiation, and in particular MIR reflectance. The paper outlines the physical principles determining MIR radiation interactions with the terrestrial environment; reviews current status of processing methods of MIR radiation to retrieve MIR reflectance; and how the retrieved data have been used. In conclusion, future research priorities are suggested.
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