Land Surface Temperature (LST) is an important parameter for many scientific disciplines since it affects the interaction between the land and the atmosphere. Many LST retrieval algorithms based on remotely sensed images have been introduced so far, where the Land Surface Emissivity (LSE) is one of the main factors affecting the accuracy of the LST estimation. The aim of this study is to evaluate the performance of LST retrieval methods using different LSE models and data of old and current Landsat missions. Mono Window Algorithm (MWA), Radiative Transfer Equation (RTE) method, Single Channel Algorithm (SCA) and Split Window Algorithm (SWA) were assessed as LST retrieval methods processing data of Landsat missions (Landsat 5, 7 and 8) over rural pixels. Considering the LSE models introduced in the literature, different Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)-based LSE models were investigated in this study. Specifically, three LSE models were considered for the LST estimation from Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) and seven Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), and six for Landsat 8. For the accurate evaluation of the estimated LST, in-situ LST data were obtained from the Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD) stations. In total, forty-five daytime Landsat images; fifteen images for each Landsat mission, acquired in the Spring-Summer-Autumn period in the mid-latitude region in the Northern Hemisphere were acquired over five SURFRAD rural sites. After determining the best LSE model for the study case, firstly, the LST retrieval accuracy was evaluated considering the sensor type: when using Landsat 5 TM, 7 ETM+, and 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) data separately, RTE, MWA, and MWA presented the best results, respectively. Then, the performance was evaluated independently of the sensor types. In this case, all LST methods provided satisfying results, with MWA having a slightly better accuracy with a Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) equals to 2.39 K and a lower bias error. In addition, the spatio-temporal and seasonal analyses indicated that RTE and SCA presented similar results regardless of the season, while MWA differed from RTE and SCA for all seasons, especially in summer. To efficiently perform this work, an ArcGIS toolbox, including all the methods and models analyzed here, was implemented and provided as a user facility for the LST retrieval from Landsat data.
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