Hook, SJ, Chander, G, Barsi, JA, Alley, RE, Abtahi, A, Palluconi, FD, Markham, BL, Richards, RC, Schladow, SG, Helder, DL (2004). In-flight validation and recovery of water surface temperature with Landsat-5 thermal infrared data using an automated high-altitude lake validation site at Lake Tahoe. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 42(12), 2767-2776.

The absolute radiometric accuracy of the thermal infrared band (B6) of the Thematic Mapper (TM) instrument on the Landsat-5 (L5) satellite was assessed over a period of approximately four years using data from the Lake Tahoe automated validation site (California-Nevada). The Lake Tahoe site was established in July 1999, and measurements of the skin and bulk temperature have been made approximately every 2 min from four permanently moored buoys since mid-1999. Assessment involved using a radiative transfer model to propagate surface skin temperature measurements made at the time of the L5 overpass to predict the at-sensor radiance. The predicted radiance was then convolved with the L5B6 system response function to obtain the predicted 1,5136 radiance, which wag then compared with the radiance measured by L5B6. Twenty-four cloud-free scenes acquired between 1999 and 2003 were used in the analysis with scene temperatures ranging between 4 degreesC and 22 degreesC. The results indicate L5B6 had a radiance bias of 2.5% (1.6 degreesC) in late 1999, which gradually decreased to 0.8% (0.5 degreesC) in mid-2002. Since that time, the bias has remained positive (predicted minus measured) and between 0.3% (0.2 degreesC) and 1.4% (0.9 degreesC). The cause for the cold bias (L5 radiances are lower than expected) is unresolved, but likely related to changes in instrument temperature associated with changes in instrument usage. The in situ data were then used to develop algorithms to recover the skin and bulk temperature of the water by regressing the L5B6 radiance and the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) total column water data to either the skin or bulk temperature. Use of the NCEP data provides an alternative approach to the split-window approach used with instruments that have two thermal infrared bands. The results indicate the surface skin and bulk temperature can be recovered with a standard error of 0.6 degreesC. This error is larger than errors obtained with other instruments due, in part, to the calibration bias. L5 provides the only long-duration high spatial resolution thermal infrared measurements of the land surface. If these data are to be used effectively in studies designed to monitor change, it is essential to continue to monitor instrument performance in-flight and develop quantitative algorithms for recovering surface temperature.