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Validation of the SEBS-derived sensible heat for FY3A/VIRR and TERRA/MODIS over an alpine grass region using LAS measurements



In this study, sensible heat (H) calculation using remote sensing data over an alpine grass landscape is conducted from May to September 2010, and the calculation is validated using LAS (large aperture scintillometers) measurements. Data from two remote sensing sensors (FY3A-VIRR and TERRA-MODIS) are analysed. Remote sensing data, combined with the ground meteorological observations (pressure, temperature, wind speed, humidity) are fed into the SEBS (Surface Energy Balance System) model. Then the VIRR-derived sensible heat (VIRR_SEBS_H) and MODIS-derived sensible heat (MODIS_SEBS_H) are compared with the LAS-estimated H, which are obtained at the respective satellite overpass time. Furthermore, the similarities and differences between the VIRR_SEBS_H and MODIS_SEBS_H values are investigated. The results indicate that VIRR data quality is as good as MODIS data for the purpose of H estimation. The root mean square errors (rmse) of the VIRR_SEBS_H and MODIS_SEBS_H values are 45.1098 W/m2 (n = 64) and 58.4654 W/m2 (n = 71), respectively. The monthly means of the MODIS_SEBS_H are marginally higher than those of VIRR_SEBS_H because the satellite overpass time of the TERRA satellite lags by 25 min to that of the FT3A satellite. Relative evaporation (EFr), which is more time-independent, shows a higher agreement between MODIS and VIRR. Many common features are shared by the VIRR_SEBS_H and the MODIS_SEBS_H, which can be attributed to the SEBS model performance. In May–June, H is over-estimated with more fluctuations and larger rmse, whereas in July–September, H is under-estimated with fewer fluctuations and smaller rmse. Sensitivity analysis shows that potential temperature gradient (delta_T) plays a dominant role in determining the magnitude and fluctuation of H. The largest rmse and over-estimation in H occur in June, which could most likely be attributed to high delta_T, high wind speed, and the complicated thermodynamic state during the transitional period when bare land transforms to dense vegetation cover.


  • LAS
  • SEBS
  • Sensible heat
  • VIRR


Wang YY, Li X, Tang SH. Validation of the SEBS-derived sensible heat for FY3A/VIRR and TERRA/MODIS over an alpine grass region using LAS measurements. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 2013, 23: 226-233.

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