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The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) is the first of a new generation of high spectral resolution atmospheric sounders, which are expected to obtain atmospheric temperature and water vapor profiles with high accuracy. We are interested in investigating the validation of AIRS surface air temperature retrievals, particularly in the region of China. The surface air temperature observations obtained from 540 ground meteorological stations over China were collected, and quantitative comparisons were performed between the AIRS Version 4 retrievals and the ground observations. Then, the main causes of retrieval errors are discussed in detail. Results show that the rms errors of the AIRS surface air temperature retrievals are correlated with the terrain altitudes of the meteorological stations. With the altitude increasing, the rms errors have a trend of gradual increase. The rms errors are insensitive to the ground-observed cloud fraction. With the observed cloud fraction increasing, the small-scale oscillations of rms errors occur. In mountainous and desert regions, the rms errors are larger and can reach up to 11 K sometimes. Furthermore, the AIRS surface air temperature retrievals have better performance in January than in July. In central and eastern China, even the accuracy of accepted quality products in January approaches the goal of the AIRS Team.