A MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) imagery for urban heat island research

Qunshan Zhao, Elizabeth A. Wentz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Thermal imagery is widely used to quantify land surface temperatures to monitor the spatial extent and thermal intensity of the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Previous research has applied Landsat images, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images, and other coarse-to medium-resolution remotely sensed imagery to estimate surface temperature. These data are frequently correlated with vegetation, impervious surfaces, and temperature to quantify the drivers of the UHI effect. Because of the coarse-to medium-resolution of the thermal imagery, researchers are unable to correlate these temperature data with the more generally available high-resolution land cover classification, which are derived from high-resolution multispectral imagery. The development of advanced thermal sensors with very high-resolution thermal imagery such as the MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) has investigators quantifying the relationship between detailed land cover and land surface temperature. While this is an obvious next step, the published literature, i.e., the MASTER data, are often used to discriminate burned areas, assess fire severity, and classify urban land cover. Considerably less attention is given to use MASTER data in the UHI research. We demonstrate here that MASTER data in combination with high-resolution multispectral data has made it possible to monitor and model the relationship between temperature and detailed land cover such as building rooftops, residential street pavements, and parcel-based landscaping. Here, we report on data sources to conduct this type of UHI research and endeavor to intrigue researchers and scientists such that high-resolution airborne thermal imagery is used to further explore the UHI effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • NAIP
  • Satellite thermal imagery
  • Surface temperature
  • UHI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management


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