Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Using near–surface temperature data to vicariously calibrate high-resolution thermal infrared imagery and estimate physical surface properties

April 2, 2022

Thermal response of the surface to solar insolation is a function of the topography and the thermal physical characteristics of the landscape, which include bulk density, heat capacity, thermal conductivity and surface albedo and emissivity. Thermal imaging is routinely used to constrain thermal physical properties by characterizing or modeling changes in the diurnal temperature profiles. Images need to be acquired throughout the diurnal cycle – typically this is done twice during a diurnal cycle, but we suggest multiple times. Comparison of images acquired over 24 hours requires that either the data be calibrated to surface temperature, or the response of the thermal camera is linear and stable over the image acquisition period. Depending on the type and age of the thermal instrument, imagery may be self-calibrated in radiance, corrected for atmospheric effects, and pixels converted to surface temperature. We used an experimental instrumentation where the calibration should be stable, but calibration coefficients are unknown. Cases may occur where one wishes to validate the camera's calibration. We present a method to validate and calibrate the instrument and characterize the thermal physical properties for areas of interest. Finally, in situ high-temporal-resolution oblique thermal imaging can be invaluable in preparation for conducting overflight missions. We present the following:

The use of oblique thermal high temporal resolution thermal imaging over diurnal or multiday periods for the characterization of landscapes has not been widespread but poses great potential.

A method of collecting and analyzing thermal data that can be used to either determine or validate thermal camera calibration coefficients.

An approach to characterize thermophysical properties of the landscape using oblique temporally high-resolution thermal imaging, combined with in situ ground measurements.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Using near–surface temperature data to vicariously calibrate high-resolution thermal infrared imagery and estimate physical surface properties
DOI 10.1016/j.mex.2022.101644
Authors Timothy N. Titus, J. Judson Wynne, M.D. Jhabvala, N. A. Cabrol
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title MethodsX
Series Number
Index ID 70230182
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center