Landsat Science Products

Landsat Provisional Surface Temperature


Landsat Surface Temperature

Left: Landsat Surface Reflectance image (bands 5,4,3) and Right: color-enhanced Landsat Provisional Landsat Surface Temperature for an area within CONUS ARD tile h005v013 (WRS Path 38 Row 37) acquired on August 16, 2000. Light areas in the Surface Temperature image indicate cooler temperatures; darker areas indicate warmer temperatures.

Return to the Landsat Surface Temperature Overview

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The Landsat Provisional Surface Temperature product is included in the U.S. Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD) product bundle.

This product measures the temperature of the surface of the Earth in Kelvin (K) and is an important parameter in energy balance and hydrologic modeling studies. Surface Temperature data are also useful for monitoring crop and vegetation health, and extreme heat events such as, natural disasters (e.g., volcanic eruptions, wild fires), and urban heat island studies.

Provisional Surface Temperature is generated from the Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 thermal infrared bands, Top of Atmosphere (TOA) Reflectance, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Global Emissivity Database (GED) data, ASTER Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data, and atmospheric profiles of geopotential height, specific humidity, and air temperature extracted from reanalysis data.

The product is processed to 30-meter spatial resolution in Albers Equal Area (AEA) projection using the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84) datum and gridded to a common tiling scheme. Product is delivered in Georeferenced Tagged Image File Format (.tif) files.

Note: This product has reached a provisional level of maturity for the United States, meaning that its uncertainties are understood in multiple locations and assessments of its results have demonstrated positive science value.  Algorithm artifacts have been identified under certain observational conditions, and are currently being analyzed to develop and test solutions to enhance algorithmic implementation, reduce uncertainty, and improve future surface temperature products. Current algorithm performance is documented in the peer-reviewed literature listed on this webpage and in the product guide.

The USGS is requesting that users of the surface temperature product  – before it is declared operational – include the following disclaimer: "USGS Landsat Provisional Surface Temperature Science Product may report unvalidated results for certain observational conditions."

Product Availability

Data are available for the conterminous U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii for the following date ranges:

  • Landsat 8 OLI: April 2013 to present
  • Landsat 7 ETM+: July 1999 to present
  • Landsat 5 TM: March 1984 to May 2012
  • Landsat 4 TM: July 1982 to December 1993

Package Content

The product package contains two primary raster products and several intermediate bands used by the Surface Temperature algorithm, to represent the temperature of the Earth’s land surface in Kelvin (K), as well as quality assessment information and metadata in Extensible Markup Language (.xml) format.

The list below describes the products and filenames that are delivered with the product package.

Surface Temperature (ST): Represents the temperature of the Earth’s surface in Kelvin (K).
Delivered file name:  *_ST.tif
Approximate file size: 9.1 MB

Surface Temperature Quality Assessment (STQA): Provides the Surface Temperature product uncertainty using a combination of uncertainty values and distance to cloud values.
Delivered file name:*_STQA.tif
Approximate file size: 8.1 MB

Atmospheric Transmittance layer (ATRAN): Displays the ratio of the transmitted radiation to the total radiation incident upon the medium (atmosphere).
Delivered file name: *_ATRAN.tif
Approximate file size: 1.5 MB

Emissivity layer (EMIS): Displays the ratio of the energy radiated from a material’s surface to that radiated from a blackbody.
Delivered file name:*_EMIS.tif
Approximate file size: 15.6 MB

Emissivity Standard Deviation (EMSD): The extent of deviation of the emissivity product. This layer is used along with CDIST to create the STQA product. 
Delivered file name:*_EMSD.tif
Approximate file size: 4.9 MB

Upwelled Radiance layer (URAD): Displays the amount of electromagnetic radiation reflected upward from the ground’s surface.
Delivered file name: *_URAD.tif
Approximate file size: 1.5 MB

Downwelled Radiance layer (DRAD): Displays the thermal energy radiated onto the ground by all objects in a hemisphere surrounding it.
Delivered file name: *_DRAD.tif
Approximate file size: 1.5 MB

Thermal Radiance layer (TRAD): Displays the values produced when thermal band reflectance is converted to radiance.
Delivered file name: *_TRAD.tif
Approximate file size: 1.5 MB

Distance to Cloud (CDIST): Represents the distance, in kilometers, that a pixel is from the nearest cloud pixel. This layer is used along with EMSD to create the STQA product.
Delivered file name:*_CDIST.tif
Approximate file size: 5.4 MB

Caveats and Constraints

Most Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 scenes can be processed to generate a Provisional Surface Temperature product. In addition to the caveats listed on the Landsat ARD page, please note the following:

  • The product will occasionally include missing data, particularly over both inland and coastal waters, due to missing data in the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Global Emissivity Database (GED).
  • The product is geographically limited within the boundary of the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) grid (see the Surface Temperature Product Guide), which is the climate data set used in the atmospheric correction algorithm.
  • Data products must contain both optical and thermal data (e.g., LC08 products for Landsat 8) to be successfully processed to Surface Temperature, as ASTER NDVI is required to temporally adjust the ASTER GED product to the target Landsat scene. Therefore, night time acquisitions cannot be processed to Surface Temperature.
  • The downwelled radiance used in the Single Channel Provisional Surface Temperature algorithm is erroneously not normalized to provide hemispherical radiance, resulting in ~0.5 Kelvin underestimation on average. This underestimation is almost negligible over water surfaces due to high emissivity, while it may be more pronounced over desert and arid regions where the atmospheric relative humidity is high.
  • A known error exists in the surface temperature retrievals relative to clouds and possibly cloud shadows. The characterization of these issues has been documented by Cook et al., 2014 (see the References section for more details).

  • Due to a miscalculation in the propagation of uncertainty in the product, the surface temperature uncertainty value (STQA) is underestimated by approximately 0.5 Kelvin on average. The magnitude of the uncertainty underestimation for any given pixel is dependent on the emissivity standard deviation obtained from the ASTER GED, land cover, and distance to the cloud at that pixel. Additional information about ST uncertainty and the standard error propagation can be found at

Data Access

The product is available for download from EarthExplorerThe data are located under the Landsat category, Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD) subcategory, and listed as U.S. Landsat 4-8 ARD.

Visit the Landsat Data Access webpage for information about bulk download options.  


Landsat Provisional Surface Temperature Product Guide

Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD) Data Format Control Book (DFCB)

Landsat Provisional Surface Temperature (ST) Digital Object Identification (DOI):

Citation Information

There are no restrictions on the use of Landsat Science Products. It is not a requirement of data use, but the following citation may be used in publication or presentation materials to acknowledge the USGS as a data source and to credit the original research.

Landsat Level 2 Surface Temperature Science Product courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Cook, Monica J., "Atmospheric Compensation for a Landsat Land Surface Temperature Product" (2014). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from

Cook, M., Schott, J. R., Mandel, J., & Raqueno, N. (2014). Development of an operational calibration methodology for the Landsat thermal data archive and initial testing of the atmospheric compensation component of a Land Surface Temperature (LST) Product from the archive. Remote Sensing, 6(11), 11244-11266.


Berk, A., Anderson, G. P., Acharya, P. K., Bernstein, L. S., Muratov, L., Lee, J., ... & Lockwood, R. B. (2005, June). MODTRAN 5: a reformulated atmospheric band model with auxiliary species and practical multiple scattering options: update. In Defense and Security (pp. 662-667). International Society for Optics and Photonics.

Cook, Monica J., "Atmospheric Compensation for a Landsat Land Surface Temperature Product" (2014). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from

Cook, M., Schott, J. R., Mandel, J., & Raqueno, N. (2014). Development of an operational calibration methodology for the Landsat thermal data archive and initial testing of the atmospheric compensation component of a Land Surface Temperature (LST) Product from the archive. Remote Sensing, 6(11), 11244-11266.

Cook, M., & Schott, J. R. (2014). Atmospheric Compensation for a Landsat Land Surface Temperature Product. Landsat Science Team Meeting, July 22-24, 2014; Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Accessed from

Hulley, G. C., Hughes, C. G., & Hook, S. J. (2012). Quantifying uncertainties in land surface temperature and emissivity retrievals from ASTER and MODIS thermal infrared data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012), 117(D23).

Hulley, G. C., Hook, S. J., Abbott, E., Malakar, N., Islam, T., & Abrams, M. (2015). The ASTER Global Emissivity Dataset (ASTER GED): Mapping Earth's emissivity at 100 meter spatial scale. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(19), 7966-7976.

Laraby, K. G., Schott, J. R. (2018). Uncertainty estimation method and Landsat 7 global validation for the Landsat surface temperature product. Remote Sensing of Environment, 216, 472-481. 

Laraby, K. G., Schott, J. R., & Raqueno, N. (2016). Developing a confidence metric for the Landsat land surface temperature product. Proc. SPIE 9840, Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral and Ultraspectral Imagery, XXII, 98400C.

Malakar, N. K., Hulley, G. C., Hook, S. J., Laraby, K., Cook, M., & Schott, J. R. (2018). An Operational Land Surface Temperature Product for Landsat Thermal Data: Methodology and Validation. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, (99), 1-19.

Mesinger, F., DiMego, G., Kalnay, E., Mitchell, K., Shafran, P. C., Ebisuzaki, W., ... & Ek, M. B. (2006). North American regional reanalysis. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 87(3), 343-360.

Schaeffer,  B. A., Iiames,  J., Dwyer,  J., Urquhart,  E., Salls,  W., Rover,  J., & Seegers,  B., (2018). An initial validation of Landsat 5 and 7 derived surface water temperature for U.S. lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries, International Journal of Remote Sensing,