Investigating the effects of soil moisture on thermal infrared land surface temperature and emissivity using satellite retrievals and laboratory measurements

Publication Year:

This study investigates the effects of soil moisture (SM) on thermal infrared (TIR) land surface emissivity (LSE) using field- and satellite-measurements. Laboratory measurements were used to simulate the effects of rainfall and subsequent surface evaporation on the LSE for two different sand types. The results showed that the LSE returned to the dry equilibrium state within an hour after initial wetting, and during the drying process the SM changes were uncorrelated with changes in LSE. Satellite retrievals of LSE from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) were examined for an anomalous rainfall event over the Namib Desert in Namibia during April, 2006. The results showed that increases in Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) derived soil moisture and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) rainfall estimates corresponded closely with LSE increases of between 0.08–0.3 at 8.6 µm and up to 0.03 at 11 µm for MODIS v4 and AIRS products. This dependence was lost in the more recent MODIS v5 product which artificially removed the correlation due to a stronger coupling with the split-window algorithm, and is lost in any algorithms that force the LSE to a pre-determined constant as in split-window type algorithms like those planned for use with the NPOESS Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Good agreement was found between MODIS land surface temperatures (LSTs) derived from the Temperature Emissivity Separation (TES) and day/night v4 algorithm (MOD11B1 v4), while the split-window dependent products (MOD11B1 v5 and MOD11A1) had cooler mean temperatures on the order of 1–2 K over the Namib Desert for the month of April 2006. Keywords: Thermal infrared; Emissivity, Soil moisture, AIRS, MODIS, ASTER.

Publication Title:

Remote Sensing of Environment

Item Type:
Journal Article

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