lakeCoSTR: A tool to facilitate use of Landsat Collection 2 to estimate lake surface water temperatures

Academic Article


  • AbstractAlthough remote sensing of lake surface water temperature has been ongoing for decades and has led to important discoveries regarding the warming of lake surface temperature in some regions, the ability to access and use remote sensing data is still primarily limited to remote sensing experts. Effective use of remote sensing data involves technical skills in coding (often in multiple programming languages), application of appropriate atmospheric corrections, and integrating spatially heterogeneous remote sensing data with in situ data obtained at specific geographic locations. To improve access to remote sensing data and broaden the understanding of changes in lake surface water temperature over the past four decades, we created lakeCoSTR (lake Collection 2 Surface Temperature Retrieval), a user‐friendly, cloud‐based script that gives ecologists lacking specialized training in remote sensing the ability to access the Landsat Collection 2 temperature estimates for lakes with a surface area of at least 0.4 ha. Additionally, if in situ data are provided, a paired dataset can be created within the tool. To demonstrate lakeCoSTR, we retrieved surface water temperature data for a lake with a long monitoring history, Lake Sunapee, NH, USA, and compared long‐term surface temperature trends between data obtained via lakeCoSTR and in situ measurements. When compared with Landsat Collection 1 temperature estimates derived from a single‐channel algorithm, the Landsat Collection 2 data from lakeCoSTR required no calibration to in situ data. This suggests that lakeCoSTR can be used to document temporal trends in lakes and to reprocess analyses that relied on Collection 1 data. From 1983 until 2020, remotely sensed surface water temperature estimates at Lake Sunapee increased by 0.07–0.09°C year−1 during July and August, a trend that agreed with long‐term in situ record. As climate change continues to impact freshwater systems, a better understanding of long‐term temperature data will be vital. Remotely sensed data, like those acquired using lakeCoSTR, may provide a window into temperature trends for lakes.
  • Authors

  • Herrick, Christina
  • Steele, BG
  • Brentrup, JA
  • Cottingham, KL
  • Ducey, Mark
  • Lutz, DA
  • Palace, Michael
  • Thompson, MC
  • Trout‐Haney, JV
  • Weathers, KC
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2023
  • Published In

  • Ecosphere  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)


  • 14
  • Issue

  • 1