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Czajkowski, KP, Goward, SN, Shirey, D, Walz, A (2002). Thermal remote sensing of near-surface water vapor. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 79(3-Feb), 253-265.

In this study, four approaches to estimate atmospheric water vapor from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) observations were tested with data from the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) and the Oklahoma Mesonetwork. The approaches studied were (i) the split-window difference of the thermal channels (Channel 4: 10.3-11.3 mum and Channel 5: 11.5-12.5 mum)by Dalu [Int. J. Remote Sens. 7 (1986) 1089.] (ii) the ratio of variances by Jedlovec [J. Appl. Meteorol. 29 (1990) 863.], (iii) the regression slope by Goward et al. [Ecol. Appl. 4 (1994) 322,], and (iv) a look-up table derived from radiative transfer model output. Although these techniques were primarily developed to estimate total column precipitable water, we used them to estimate near-surface water vapor, within a few meters of the surface. Near-surface water vapor is needed for hydrologic and biospheric modeling. Analysis showed the total column precipitable water to be highly correlated (r(2) = .79) with near-surface absolute humidity for clear-sky conditions at the BOREAS and the Oklahoma study sites. Correlation of all the retrieval techniques with ground observations was very low. For the split-window approach, water vapor can only be estimated on a per pixel basis and is ambiguous for anything but a single site. The regression slope and variance ratio techniques showed very little correlation with ground observations with r(2) = .02 when compared with data from BOREAS, and .17 for the variance ratio and .24 for the regression slope when compared with Mesonet data. The spatial variability of water vapor across the landscape hampers the use of these contextual approaches. The highest correlation was for the look-up table approach, with r(2) = .36 when compared with data from the BOREAS site. The look-up table was applied using AVHRR Channels 4 and 5 brightness temperatures, surface temperature, and near-surface air temperature. Surface temperature and air temperature were both estimated from the satellite readings. Combining the satellite data with air temperature measured at meteorological ground stations improved the correlation to .50. The relatively low r(2) values were at least partly due to spatial and temporal mismatches between surface and satellite measurements. Simulation of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) thermal Channels 29 (8.4-8.7 mum), 31 (10.78-11.28 mum), and 32 (11.77-12.27 mum) brightness temperatures showed that Channels 31 and 32 provide similar information as AVHRR Channels 4 and 5. The additional thermal information provided by Channel 29 shows promise for future water vapor detection efforts. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.



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