The successful launch of the Landsat 8 satellite with two thermal infrared bands on February 11, 2013, for continuous Earth observation provided another opportunity for remote sensing of land surface temperature (LST). However, calibration notices issued by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicated that data from the Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) Band 11 have large uncertainty and suggested using TIRS Band 10 data as a single spectral band for LST estimation. In this study, we presented an improved mono-window (IMW) algorithm for LST retrieval from the Landsat 8 TIRS Band 10 data. Three essential parameters (ground emissivity, atmospheric transmittance and effective mean atmospheric temperature) were required for the IMW algorithm to retrieve LST. A new method was proposed to estimate the parameter of effective mean atmospheric temperature from local meteorological data. The other two essential parameters could be both estimated through the so-called land cover approach. Sensitivity analysis conducted for the IMW algorithm revealed that the possible error in estimating the required atmospheric water vapor content has the most significant impact on the probable LST estimation error. Under moderate errors in both water vapor content and ground emissivity, the algorithm had an accuracy of ~1.4 K for LST retrieval. Validation of the IMW algorithm using the simulated datasets for various situations indicated that the LST difference between the retrieved and the simulated ones was 0.67 K on average, with an RMSE of 0.43 K. Comparison of our IMW algorithm with the single-channel (SC) algorithm for three main atmosphere profiles indicated that the average error and RMSE of the IMW algorithm were −0.05 K and 0.84 K, respectively, which were less than the −2.86 K and 1.05 K of the SC algorithm. Application of the IMW algorithm to Nanjing and its vicinity in east China resulted in a reasonable LST estimation for the region. Spatial variation of the extremely hot weather, a frequently-occurring phenomenon of an abnormal heat flux process in summer along the Yangtze River Basin, had been thoroughly analyzed. This successful application suggested that the IMW algorithm presented in the study could be used as an efficient method for LST retrieval from the Landsat 8 TIRS Band 10 data.
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