Land-atmospheric interactions are complex and variable in space and time. On average soil moisture-temperature coupling is expected to be stronger in transition zones between wet and dry climates. During heatwaves anomalously high coupling may be found in areas of soil moisture deficit and high atmospheric demand of water. Here a new approach is applied to satellite and in situ observations towards the characterization of regions of intense soil moisture-temperature coupling, both in terms of climatology and anomalies during heatwaves. The resulting average summertime coupling hot spots reflect intermediate climatic regions in agreement with previous studies. Results at heatwave-scale suggest a minor role of soil moisture deficit during the heatwave of 2006 in California but an important one in the 2003 event in Western Europe. Progress towards near-real time satellite products may allow the application of the approach to aid prediction and management of warm extremes. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.