Collados-Lara, AJ; Fassnacht, SR; Pulido-Velazquez, D; Pfohl, AKD; Moran-Tejeda, E; Venable, NBH; Pardo-Iguzquiza, E; Puntenney-Desmond, K (2020). Intra-day variability of temperature and its near-surface gradient with elevation over mountainous terrain: ComparingMODISland surface temperature data with coarse and fine scale near-surface measurements. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY.

Where land surface air temperature data are not available, satellite land surface temperature are used. However, the coarse spatial resolution of satellite-derived products may yield errors at the local scale. This work shows the differences between the MODIS Land Surface Temperature and Emissivity (MOD11A1) product and ground measurements at two different scales. We used data from 21 SNOTEL stations across the northern Front Range of Colorado to represent the coarse scale and 17 iButton temperature sensors across the Colorado State University Mountain Campus to represent the fine scale. We found significant differences in the temperature and its changes with elevation for the two spatial scales. At the fine scale, cold air drainage can induce an inversion of the temperature gradient with elevation. A higher correlation was found during the nighttime at the fine scale, while, at the coarse scale, higher correlations were observed during the daytime. On windy nights, temperatures do not cool as much as on calmer nights, and the coarse scale near-surface temperature gradient with elevation persists, though the fine scale inversions do not develop. The near-surface temperature gradients with elevation based on the MODIS pixels are similar to the ground-based data at the coarse scale but not at the fine scale. Thus, one must be cautious in selecting the near-surface temperature gradients with elevation for mountainous terrain when different scales are considered, and a proper validation of satellite products is necessary prior to their use to avoid the propagation of uncertainties.