Comparison of accuracy of surface temperature images from unmanned aerial vehicle and satellite for precise thermal environment monitoring of urban parks using in situ data

Dongwoo Kim, Jaejin Yu, Jeongho Yoon, Seongwoo Jeon, Seungwoo Son

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid urbanization has led to several severe environmental problems, including so-called heat island effects, which can be mitigated by creating more urban green spaces. However, the temperature of various surfaces differs and precise measurement and analyses are required to determine the “coolest” of these. Therefore, we evaluated the accuracy of surface temperature data based on thermal infrared (TIR) cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which have recently been utilized for the spatial analysis of surface temperatures. Accordingly, we investigated land surface temperatures (LSTs) in green spaces, specifically those of different land cover types in an urban park in Korea. We compared and analyzed LST data generated by a thermal infrared (TIR) camera mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and LST data from the Landsat 8 satellite for seven specific periods. For comparison and evaluation, we measured in situ LSTs using contact thermometers. The UAV TIR LST showed higher accuracy (R2 0.912, root mean square error (RMSE) 3.502 C) than Landsat TIR LST accuracy (R2 value lower than 0.3 and RMSE of 7.246 C) in all periods. The Landsat TIR LST did not show distinct LST characteristics by period and land cover type; however, grassland, the largest land cover type in the study area, showed the highest accuracy. With regard to the accuracy of the UAV TIR LST by season, the accuracy was higher in summer and spring (R2 0.868–0.915, RMSE 2.523–3.499 C) than in autumn and winter (R2 0.766–0.79, RMSE 3.834–5.398 C). Some land cover types (concrete bike path, wooden deck) were overestimated, showing relatively high total RMSEs of 4.439 C and 3.897 C, respectively, whereas grassland, which has lower LST, was underestimated—showing a total RMSE of 3.316 C. Our results showed that the UAV TIR LST could be measured with sufficient reliability for each season and land cover type in an urban park with complex land cover types. Accordingly, our results could contribute to decision-making for urban spaces and environmental planning in consideration of the thermal environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1977
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was funded by the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) under grant (number: 2016000200009) and conducted (name: Application of Advanced Technology (Drone, Robot, etc.) for Environmental Inspection and Its Integrated Management, number: 2018-080) by the Korea Environment Institute (KEI).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Green space
  • Land surface temperature
  • Thermal infrared camera
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle
  • Urban heat islands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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