Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
Research article
27 Jan 2017
Research article |  | 27 Jan 2017

Global clear-sky surface skin temperature from multiple satellites using a single-channel algorithm with angular anisotropy corrections

Benjamin R. Scarino, Patrick Minnis, Thad Chee, Kristopher M. Bedka, Christopher R. Yost, and Rabindra Palikonda

Abstract. Surface skin temperature (Ts) is an important parameter for characterizing the energy exchange at the ground/water–atmosphere interface. The Satellite ClOud and Radiation Property retrieval System (SatCORPS) employs a single-channel thermal-infrared (TIR) method to retrieve Ts over clear-sky land and ocean surfaces from data taken by geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite imagers. GEO satellites can provide somewhat continuous estimates of Ts over the diurnal cycle in non-polar regions, while polar Ts retrievals from LEO imagers, such as the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), can complement the GEO measurements. The combined global coverage of remotely sensed Ts, along with accompanying cloud and surface radiation parameters, produced in near-realtime and from historical satellite data, should be beneficial for both weather and climate applications. For example, near-realtime hourly Ts observations can be assimilated in high-temporal-resolution numerical weather prediction models and historical observations can be used for validation or assimilation of climate models. Key drawbacks to the utility of TIR-derived Ts data include the limitation to clear-sky conditions, the reliance on a particular set of analyses/reanalyses necessary for atmospheric corrections, and the dependence on viewing and illumination angles. Therefore, Ts validation with established references is essential, as is proper evaluation of Ts sensitivity to atmospheric correction source.

This article presents improvements on the NASA Langley GEO satellite and AVHRR TIR-based Ts product that is derived using a single-channel technique. The resulting clear-sky skin temperature values are validated with surface references and independent satellite products. Furthermore, an empirically adjusted theoretical model of satellite land surface temperature (LST) angular anisotropy is tested to improve satellite LST retrievals. Application of the anisotropic correction yields reduced mean bias and improved precision of GOES-13 LST relative to independent Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MYD11_L2) LST and Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program ground station measurements. It also significantly reduces inter-satellite differences between LSTs retrieved simultaneously from two different imagers. The implementation of these universal corrections into the SatCORPS product can yield significant improvement in near-global-scale, near-realtime, satellite-based LST measurements. The immediate availability and broad coverage of these skin temperature observations should prove valuable to modelers and climate researchers looking for improved forecasts and better understanding of the global climate model.

Short summary
Global coverage of remotely sensed skin temperature, along with cloud/surface radiation parameters, produced in near-real time and from historical satellite data, is beneficial for weather and climate purposes. One key drawback is the dependence on view angle. Therefore, this article serves to validate a global, satellite-based skin temperature product, while highlighting an empirically adjusted theoretical model of satellite LST angular anisotropy, and the benefits gained from its application.