• land surface temperature;
  • passive microwave remote sensing;
  • diurnal temperature

[1] An alternative to thermal infrared satellite sensors for measuring land surface temperature (Ts) is presented. The 37 GHz vertical polarized brightness temperature is used to derive Ts because it is considered the most appropriate microwave frequency for temperature retrieval. This channel balances a reduced sensitivity to soil surface characteristics with a relatively high atmospheric transmissivity. It is shown that with a simple linear relationship, accurate values for Ts can be obtained from this frequency, with a theoretical bias of within 1 K for 70% of vegetated land areas of the globe. Barren, sparsely vegetated, and open shrublands cannot be accurately described with this single channel approach because variable surface conditions become important. The precision of the retrieved land surface temperature is expected to be better than 2.5 K for forests and 3.5 K for low vegetation. This method can be used to complement existing infrared derived temperature products, especially during clouded conditions. With several microwave radiometers currently in orbit, this method can be used to observe the diurnal temperature cycles with surprising accuracy.