Surface temperature is an important Earth system data record that is useful to fields such as change detection, climate research, environmental monitoring, and many smaller scale applications like agriculture. Earth-observing satellites can be used to derive this metric, with the goal that a global product can be established. There are a series of Landsat satellites designed for this purpose, whose data archives provides the longest running source of continuously acquired multispectral imagery. The moderate spatial and temporal resolution, in addition to its well calibrated sensors and data archive make Landsat an unparalleled and attractive choice for many research applications. Through the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a Landsat Surface Temperature product (LST) has been developed. Currently, it has been validated for Landsat 5 scenes in North America, and Landsat 7 on a global scale. Transmission and cloud proximity were used to characterize LST error for various conditions, which showed that 30% of the validation data had root mean squared errors (RMSEs) less than 1 K, and 62% had RMSEs less than 2 K. Transmission and cloud proximity were also used to develop a LST uncertainty estimation method, which will allow the user to choose data points that meet their accuracy requirements. For the same dataset, about 20% reported LST uncertainties less than 1 K, and 63% had uncertainties less than 2 K. Enabling global validation and establishing an uncertainty estimation method were crucially important achievements for the LST product, which is now ready to be implemented and scaled so that it is available to the public. This document will describe the LST algorithm in full, and it will also discuss the validation results and uncertainty estimation process.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Landsat satellites; Earth temperature--Measurement; Multispectral imaging

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Science (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


John Schott

Advisor/Committee Member

Sophia Maggelakis

Advisor/Committee Member

Carl Salvaggio


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at QE509.5 .L37 2017


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes