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Study on the estimation of near-surface air temperature from MODIS data by statistical methods

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Spatially distributed air temperature is desired for various scientific studies, including climatalogical, hydrological, agricultural, environmental and ecological studies. In this study, empirical models with regard to land cover and spatial scale were introduced and compared to estimate air temperature from satellite-derived land surface temperature and other environmental parameters. Aqua MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data and meteorological data obtained throughout 2005 in the Yangtze River Delta were adopted to develop statistical algorithms of air temperature. Four empirical regression models with different forms and different independent variables resulted in errors ranging from 2.20°C to 2.34°C. Considering the different relationships between air temperature and land surface temperature for different land types, these four models were evaluated and the most proper equation for each land-cover type was determined. The model containing these selected equations gave a slightly improved mean absolute error (MAE) of 2.18°C. Then the spatial scale effect of this empirical model was analysed with observed air temperature and spatially averaged land surface characteristics. The result shows that the estimation error of air temperature tends to be lower as spatial window size increases, suggesting that the model performances are improved by spatially averaging land surface characteristics. Comprehensively considering the accuracy and computational demand, 5 × 5 pixel size is the most favourable window size for estimating air temperature. The validation of the empirical model at 5 × 5 pixel size shows that it achieves an MAE of 1.98°C and an R 2 of 0.9215. This satisfactory result indicates that this approach is proper for estimating air temperature, and spatial window size is an important factor that should be considered when calculating air temperature. It is expected that better accuracy will be achieved if the different weights of pixels at different distances can be set according to high-density micro-meteorological data.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Remote Sensing,Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing,210044, PR China 2: International Institute for Earth System Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing,210093, PR China 3: National Meteorological Information Centre, Beijing,100081, PR China

Publication date: 2012-12-20

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