The potential of Pathfinder AVHRR data for providing surrogate climatic variables across Africa and Europe for epidemiological applications
Green RM., Hay SI.
Surface climatic conditions are key determinants of arthropod vector distribution and abundance and consequently affect transmission rates of any diseases they may carry. Remotely sensed observations by satellite sensors are the only feasible means of obtaining regional and continental scale measurements of climate at regular intervals for real-time epidemiological applications such as disease early warning systems. The potential of Pathfinder AVHRR Land (PAL) data to provide surrogate variables for near-surface air temperature and vapour pressure deficit (VPD) over Africa and Europe were assessed in this context. For the years 1988-1990 and 1992, correlations were examined between meteorological ground measurements (monthly mean air temperature and VPD(grd)) and variables derived from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data (LST and VPD(sat)). The AVHRR indices were derived from both daily and composite PAL data so that their relative performance could be determined. Furthermore, the ground observations were divided into African and European subsets, so that the relative performance of the satellite data at tropical/sub-tropical and temperate latitudes could be assessed.Significant correlations were shown between air temperature and LST in all months. Temporal variability existed in the strength of correlations throughout any twelve-month period, with the pattern of variability consistent between years. The adjusted r(2) values increased when elevation and the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were included, in addition to LST, as predictor variables of air temperature. Attempts to derive monthly estimates of atmospheric moisture availability resulted in an over-estimation of VPD(sat) compared to ground observations, VPD(grd). The use of daily PAL data to derive monthly mean climatic indices was shown to be more accurate than those obtained using monthly maximum values from 10-day composite data. A subset of the 1992 data was then used to build linear regression models for the direct retrieval of monthly mean air temperature from PAL data. The accuracy of retrieved estimates was greatest when NDVI was included with LST as predictor variables, with root mean square errors varying from 1.83°C to 3.18 °C with a mean of 2.38 °C over the twelve months.