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Accuracy of lake and stream temperatures estimated from thermal infrared images

Kay, J.E., Kampf, S.K., Handcock, R.N., Cherkauer, K.A., Gillespie, A.R. and Burges, S.J. (2005) Accuracy of lake and stream temperatures estimated from thermal infrared images. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 41 (5). pp. 1161-1175.

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Emitted thermal infrared radiation (TIR, λ= 8 to 14 μm) can be used to measure surface water temperatures (top approximately 100 μm). This study evaluates the accuracy of stream (50 to 500 m wide) and lake (300 to 5,000 m wide) radiant temperatures (15 to 22°C) derived from airborne (MASTER, 5 to 15 m) and satellite (ASTER 90 m, Landsat ETM+ 60 m) TIR images. Applied atmospheric compensations changed water temperatures by −0.2 to +2.0°C. Atmospheric compensation depended primarily on atmospheric water vapor and temperature, sensor viewing geometry, and water temperature. Agreement between multiple TIR bands (MASTER - 10 bands, ASTER - 5 bands) provided an independent check on recovered temperatures. Compensations improved agreement between image and in situ surface temperatures (from 2.0 to 1.1°C average deviation); however, compensations did not improve agreement between river image temperatures and loggers installed at the stream bed (from 0.6 to 1.6°C average deviation). Analysis of field temperatures suggests that vertical thermal stratification may have caused a systematic difference between instream gage temperatures and corrected image temperatures. As a result, agreement between image temperatures and instream temperatures did not imply that accurate TIR temperatures were recovered. Based on these analyses, practical accuracies for corrected TIR lake and stream surface temperatures are around 1°C.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley
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