Estimation of hourly near surface air temperature across Israel using an ensemble model

Bin Zhou, Evyatar Erell, Ian Hough, Alexandra Shtein, Allan C. Just, Victor Novack, Jonathan Rosenblatt, Itai Kloog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Mapping of near-surface air temperature (Ta) at high spatio-temporal resolution is essential for unbiased assessment of human health exposure to temperature extremes, not least given the observed trend of urbanization and global climate change. Data constraints have led previous studies to focus merely on daily Ta metrics, rather than hourly ones, making them insufficient for intra-day assessment of health exposure. In this study, we present a three-stage machine learning-based ensemble model to estimate hourly Ta at a high spatial resolution of 1 x 1 km2, incorporating remotely sensed surface skin temperature (Ts) from geostationary satellites, reanalysis synoptic variables, and observations from weather stations, as well as auxiliary geospatial variables, which account for spatio-temporal variability of Ta. The Stage 1 model gap-fills hourly Ts at 4 x 4 km2 from the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI), which are subsequently fed into the Stage 2 model to estimate hourly Ta at the same spatio-temporal resolution. The Stage 3 model downscales the residuals between estimated and measured Ta to a grid of 1 x 1 km2, taking into account additionally the monthly diurnal pattern of Ts derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. In each stage, the ensemble model synergizes estimates from the constituent base learners-random forest (RF) and extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost)-by applying a geographically weighted generalized additive model (GAM), which allows the weights of results from individual models to vary over space and time. Demonstrated for Israel for the period 2004-2017, the proposed ensemble model outperformed each of the two base learners. It also attained excellent five-fold cross-validated performance, with overall root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.8 and 0.9 °C, mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.6 and 0.7 °C, and R2 of 0.95 and 0.98 in Stage 1 and Stage 2, respectively. The Stage 3 model for downscaling Ta residuals to 1 km MODIS grids achieved overall RMSE of 0.3 °C, MAE of 0.5 °C, and R2 of 0.63. The generated hourly 1 x 1 km2 Ta thus serves as a foundation for monitoring and assessing human health exposure to temperature extremes at a larger geographical scale, helping to further minimize exposure misclassification in epidemiological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1741
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Extreme gradient boosting
  • Generalized additive model
  • Health exposure
  • Machine learning
  • Near-surface air temperature
  • Random forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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