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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(8), 836; doi:10.3390/rs9080836

Estimating Subpixel Surface Heat Fluxes through Applying Temperature-Sharpening Methods to MODIS Data

State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
College of Educational Science, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241000, China
Joint Center for Global Change Studies (JCGCS), Beijing 100875, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 May 2017 / Revised: 9 August 2017 / Accepted: 11 August 2017 / Published: 12 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensing in Geology, Geomorphology and Hydrology)
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Using high-resolution satellite data to perform routine (i.e., daily to weekly) monitoring of surface evapotranspiration, evapotranspiration (ET) (or LE, i.e., latent heat flux) has not been feasible because of the low frequency of satellite coverage over regions of interest (i.e., approximately every two weeks). Cloud cover further reduces the number of useable observations, and the utility of these data for routine ET or LE monitoring is limited. Moderate-resolution satellite imagery is available multiple times per day; however, the spatial resolution of these data is too coarse to enable the estimation of ET from individual agricultural fields or variations in ET or LE. The objective of this study is to combine high-resolution satellite data collected in the visible and near-infrared (VNIR) bands with data from the MODIS thermal-infrared (TIR) bands to estimate subpixel surface LE. Two temperature-sharpening methods, the disaggregation procedure for radiometric surface temperature (DisTrad) and the geographically-weighted regression (GWR)-based downscaling algorithm, were used to obtain accurate subpixel land surface temperature (LST) within the Zhangye oasis in China, where the surface is heterogeneous. The downscaled LSTs were validated using observations collected during the HiWATER-MUSOEXE (Multi-Scale Observation Experiment on Evapotranspiration) project. In addition, a remote sensing-based energy balance model was used to compare subpixel MODIS LST-based turbulent heat fluxes estimates with those obtained using the two LST downscaling approaches. The footprint validation results showed that the direct use of the MODIS LST approach does not consider LST heterogeneity at all, leading to significant errors (i.e., the root mean square error is 73.15 W·m−2) in LE, whereas the errors in the LE estimates obtained using DisTrad and GWR were 45.84 W·m−2 and 47.38 W·m−2, respectively. Furthermore, additional analysis showed that the ability of DisTrad and GWR to capture subpixel LST variations depends on the value of Shannon’s diversity index (SHDI) and the surface type within the flux contribution source area. View Full-Text
Keywords: temperature sharpening; energy balance; heterogeneous surface; evapotranspiration; MODIS; Shannon’s diversity index (SHDI) temperature sharpening; energy balance; heterogeneous surface; evapotranspiration; MODIS; Shannon’s diversity index (SHDI)

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Li, X.; Xin, X.; Jiao, J.; Peng, Z.; Zhang, H.; Shao, S.; Liu, Q. Estimating Subpixel Surface Heat Fluxes through Applying Temperature-Sharpening Methods to MODIS Data. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 836.

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