Mushkin, A; Gillespie, AR; Abbott, EA; Batbaatar, J; Hulley, G; Tan, H; Tratt, DM; Buckland, KN (2020). Validation of ASTER Emissivity Retrieval Using the Mako Airborne TIR Imaging Spectrometer at the Algodones Dune Field in Southern California, USA. REMOTE SENSING, 12(5), 815.

Validation of emissivity (epsilon) retrievals from spaceborne thermal infrared (TIR) sensors typically requires spatial extrapolations over several orders of magnitude for a comparison between centimeter-scale laboratory epsilon measurements and the common decameter and lower resolution of spaceborne TIR data. In the case of NASA's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) temperature and epsilon separation algorithm (TES), this extrapolation becomes especially challenging because TES was originally designed for the geologic surface of Earth, which is typically heterogeneous even at centimeter and decameter scales. Here, we used the airborne TIR hyperspectral Mako sensor with its 2.2 m/pixel resolution, to bridge this scaling issue and robustly link between ASTER TES 90 m/pixel emissivity retrievals and laboratory epsilon measurements from the Algodones dune field in southern California, USA. The experimental setup included: (i) Laboratory XRD, grain size, and TIR spectral measurements; (ii) radiosonde launches at the time of the two Mako overpasses for atmospheric corrections; (iii) ground-based thermal measurements for calibration, and (iv) analyses of ASTER day and night epsilon retrievals from 21 different acquisitions. We show that while cavity radiation leads to a 2% to 4% decrease in the effective emissivity contrast of fully resolved scene elements (e.g., slipface slopes and interdune flats), spectral variability of the site when imaged at 90 m/pixel is below 1%, because at this scale the dune field becomes an effectively homogeneous mixture of the different dune elements. We also found that adsorption of atmospheric moisture to grain surfaces during the predawn hours increased the effective epsilon of the dune surface by up to 0.04. The accuracy of ASTER's daytime emissivity retrievals using each of the three available atmospheric correction protocols was better than 0.01 and within the target performance of ASTER's standard emissivity product. Nighttime emissivity retrievals had lower precision (<0.03) likely due to residual atmospheric effects. The water vapor scaling (WVS) atmospheric correction protocol was required to obtain accurate (<0.01) nighttime ASTER emissivity retrievals.