Lakes are major repositories of biodiversity, provide multiple ecosystem services and are widely recognised as key indicators of environmental change. However, studies of lake response to drivers of change at a
pan-European scale are exceptionally rare. The need for such studies has been given renewed impetus by concerns over environmental change and because of international policies, such as the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which impose legal obligations to monitor the condition of European lakes towards sustainable systems with good ecological status. This has highlighted the need for methods that can be widely applied
across large spatial and temporal scales and produce comparable results. Remote sensing promises much in terms of information provision, but the spatial transferability and temporal repeatability of methods and relationships observed at individual or regional case studies remains unproven at the continental scale.
This study demonstrates that NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) thermal data are
capable of producing highly accurate (R2>0.9) lake surface temperature (LST) estimates in lakes with variable
hydromorphological characteristics and contrasting thermal regimes. Validation of the approach using archived AVHRR thermal data for Lake Geneva produced observations that were consistent with field data for equivalent time periods. This approach provides the basis for generalizing temporal and spatial trends
in European lake surface temperature over several decades and confirms the potential of the full 30 year NOAA AVHRR archive to can provide AVHRR-derived LST estimates to help inform European policies on
lake water quality.