Up to now, the thermal input to ALEXI has always been based on thermal infrared radiometers, which give the most direct measurement of physical land surface temperature (LST). However, because at TIR wavelengths the surface is obscured by clouds, the dependence on TIR has limited ALEXI to clear sky conditions and made the accuracy dependant on the efficacy of cloud masking. Passive microwave (MW) methods to estimate LST could help to overcome this limitation and provide a more cloud tolerant alternative to existing TIR-based techniques. This paper builds on recent progress in characterizing the main structural differences between TIR LST and MW Ka-band observations, the MW frequency that is most suitable for LST sensing. By accounting for differences in diurnal timing (phase lag with solar noon), amplitude, and emissivity we constructed a MW-based LST dataset that matches the diurnal characteristics of the TIR-based LSA SAF LST record. This new global dataset of MW-based LST currently spans the period of 2003-2013 with a 0.25 degree spatial- and 15-minute temporal resolution.
As a first test of the functioning of this MW-based LST within the ALEXI framework we ran two parallel implementations of ALEXI: one with the TIR-LST from geostationary MSG satellite as in previous work, and one with the new MW-LST. The MW-LST is treated exactly as the TIR-based LST to calculate the temperature rate of change in the morning hours – no other changes to the ALEXI framework are made. This paper presents an analysis of the clear sky ET estimates for the years 2003-2013. We will explore the level of agreement between the MW- and TIR-based ET and the utility of the MW-ET to add additional cloud screening capability to TIR observations.