Van De Kerchove, R; Lhermitte, S; Veraverbeke, S; Goossens, R (2013). Spatio-temporal variability in remotely sensed land surface temperature, and its relationship with physiographic variables in the Russian Altay Mountains. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATION AND GEOINFORMATION, 20, 4-19.
Spatio-temporal variability in energy fluxes at the earth's surface implies spatial and temporal changes in observed land surface temperatures (LST). These fluxes are largely determined by variation in meteorological conditions, surface cover and soil characteristics. Consequently, a change in these parameters will be reflected in a different temporal LST behavior which can be observed by remotely sensed time series. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to perform a quantitative analysis on the parameters that determine this variability in LST to estimate the impact of changes in these parameters on the surface thermal regime. This study was conducted in the Russian Altay Mountains, an area characterized by strong gradients in meteorological conditions and surface cover. Spatio-temporal variability in LST was assessed by applying the fast Fourier transform (FFT) on 8 year of MODIS Aqua LST time series, herein considering both day and nighttime series as well as the diurnal difference. This FFT method was chosen as it allows to discriminate significant periodics, and as such enables distinction between short-term weather components, and strong, climate related, periodic patterns. A quantitative analysis was based on multiple linear regression models between the calculated, significant Fourier components (i.e. the annual and average component) and five physiographic variables representing the regional variability in meteorological conditions and surface cover. Physiographic predictors were elevation, potential solar insolation, topographic convergence, vegetation cover and snow cover duration. Results illustrated the strong inverse relationship between averaged daytime and diurnal difference LST and snow duration, with a R-adj(2) of 0.85 and 0.60, respectively. On the other hand, nocturnal LST showed a strong connection with elevation and the amount of vegetation cover. Amplitudes of the annual harmonic experienced both for daytime and for nighttime LST similar trends with the set of physiographic variables - with stronger relationships at night. As such, topographic convergence was found to be the principal single predictor which demonstrated the importance of severe temperature inversions in the region. Furthermore, limited contribution of the physiographic predictors to the observed variation in the annual signal of the diurnal difference was retrieved, although a significant phase divergence was noticed between the majority of the study region and the perennial snowfields. Hence, this study gives valuable insights into the complexity of the spatio-temporal variability in LST, which can be used in future studies to estimate the ecosystems' response on changing climatic conditions. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.