Air temperature (Tair) near the ground surface is a fundamental descriptor of terrestrial environment conditions and one of the most widely used climatic variables in global change studies. The main objective of this study was to explore the possibility of retrieving high-resolution Tair from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature (LST) products, covering complex terrain in Northeast China. The All Subsets Regression (ASR) method was adopted to select the predictors and build optimal multiple linear regression models for estimating maximum (Tmax), minimum (Tmin), and mean (Tmean) air temperatures. The relative importance of predictors in these models was evaluated via the Standardized Regression Coefficients (SRCs) method. The results indicated that the optimal models could estimate the Tmax, Tmin, and Tmean with relatively high accuracies (Model Efficiency ≥ 0.90). Both LST and day length (DL) predictors were important in estimating Tmax (SRCs: daytime LST = 0.53, DL = 0.35), Tmin (SRCs: nighttime LST = 0.74, DL = 0.23), and Tmean (SRCs: nighttime LST = 0.72, DL = 0.28). Models predicting Tmin and Tmean had better performance than the one predicting Tmax. Nighttime LST was better at predicting Tmin and Tmean than daytime LST data at predicting Tmax. Land covers had noticeable influences on estimating Tair, and even seasonal vegetation greening could result in temporal variations of model performance. Air temperature could be accurately estimated using remote sensing, but the model performance was varied across different spatial and temporal scales. More predictors should be incorporated for the purpose of improving the estimation of near surface Tair from the MODIS LST production.

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Published in Remote Sensing, v. 9, issue 5, 410, p. 1-19.

© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This work was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFA0600804), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41222004, 31270511, 31470517 & 41501200), CAS Interdisciplinary Innovation Team, and the CAS Pioneer Hundred Talents Program.