What are Map Projections?

Earth is a large blue marble that’s the shape of a spbelow (or close to it). This is why a globe is the finest method to recurrent the Earth.

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But globes are tough to bring in your suitcase and also you have the right to just view one side of the world. On optimal of that, it’s difficult to measure ranges and they’re just not as convenient as paper maps.

This is why we usage map projections on globes and also flatten it out in two-dimensions. But as you’re about to uncover out, you can’t reexisting Earth’s surface in two dimensions without distortion.

On height of that, all types of map projections have strengths and also weaknesses keeping different qualities.

Peel an Oselection and Flatten the Peels


Imagine you have actually an oarray. This is your imaginary Earth. When you look at it in any kind of direction, you won’t be able to see all sides of it. But once you peel the oselection, flatten and stretch it out, you have the right to begin to view everything.

Similarly, a map forecast is a technique through which cartographers converts a sphere or world right into a two-dimensional representation. In other words, a map estimate systematically renders a 3D ellipsoid (or spheroid) of Planet to a 2D map surchallenge.

Tbelow are multiple ways to recurrent a spbelow on a two-dimensional surface… Like Jason Davies renowned Map Projection Transition Visualizer.

Because you can’t screen 3D surfaces perfectly in two dimensions, distortions always happen. For example, map projections distort distance, direction, scale, and also area.

Eincredibly projection has toughness and also weaknesses. All in all, it is approximately the cartographer to determine what estimate is most favorable for its function.


Developable Surdeals with in Map Projections

Map projections take developable surfaces such as cylinders, cones, and also planes.

The goal of a developable surface is to flatten the human being in a two-dimensional aircraft.

Each surface is mathematically rendered based on those geometric shapes.

Conic Projections

When you area a cone on the Planet and also unwrap it, this outcomes in a conic estimate. For example, Albers Equal Area Conic and the Lambert Conformal Conic projections are conic projections.

Both of these map projections are well-suited for mapping long east-west areas because distortion is continuous along widespread parallels.

But they battle at projecting the whole earth. While the area is distorted, the range is greatly preserved. For conic map projections, distance at the bottom of the picture suffers through the the majority of distortion.


Cylindrical Projections

When you location a cylinder approximately a globe and unravel it, you gain the cylindrical estimate. Strangely sufficient, you view cylindrical map projections like the Mercator and Miller for wall maps also though it inflates the Arctic.

But it makes sense why navigators and even Google Maps use the Mercator projections – it’s all bereason of the distinct properties of cylinders and also north constantly encountering up.

You have the right to location it in a vertical, horizontal or oblique place such as the State Plane Coordinate System. Each one has its own use in mapping the human being.


Azimuthal Projections

These forms of projections plot the surconfront of Planet utilizing a flat aircraft. Similar to light rays radiating from a source complying with right lines, those light rays intercept the globe onto a airplane at assorted angles.

The light resource deserve to be emitted from different positions arising various azimuthal map projections. For instance, gnomonic, stereographic, and orthographic are widespread azimuthal projections.


Map Projections and Coordinate Systems

Remember that via a spright here, we usage latitude and longitude to pinpoint our place. This is our geographical coordinate system. For instance, New York’s position is (40.714°, -74.006°).


But as soon as the Earth has actually a map forecast, this indicates that it has actually projected works with. For example, the Universal Transverse Mercator mechanism splits the Planet right into 60 sections by lines of longitude. If you deserve to imagine you are cutting an orange into 60 wedges, this is exactly how the UTM mechanism functions.


From here, it asindications the central meridian a worth of 500,000 meters.

The crucial take amethod is this:

When we locate positions on a spbelow, we usage decimal levels. But when we usage map projections, we locate positions in meters or feet.

It supplies an equation to transcreate Earth’s angular geographic works with to XY Cartesian coordinates utilizing developable surencounters. A developable surconfront is the geometric shape that a map estimate can be built on.

Actually, some map projections don’t use developable surdeals with at all such as the Goode and also Bonne projections.

Instances of Map Projections

Throughout huguy history, civilization have actually offered map projections for a large variety of offers. Explorers use Mercator maps for rhumb lines to accurately take a trip in a consistent track direction. Actually, the first known map originated in Greece and regarded the people as cylindrical.

Tbelow are countless map projections that are in visibility today!

Some map projections are useful for some things and also various other map projections are excellent for other points.

Two of the most prevalent map projections provided in North America are the Lambert conformal conic and also the Transverse Mercator.

Lambert Conformal Conic
North America: Lambert Conformal Conic

The Lambert Conformal Conic is obtained from a cone intersecting the ellipsoid alengthy two conventional parallels. When you “unroll” the cone on a level surconfront, this becomes the mathematically arisen surchallenge.

The most distortion occurs in the north-southern directions. In basic, distortion rises ameans from the traditional parallels. For example, this map projection sevecount increases South America.

Universal Transverse Mercator
North America: Mercator

Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system is a conventional set of map projections through a main meridian for each six-level wide UTM zone. Even though Google maps used the Mercator forecast bereason it preserves form decently, and also north is constantly up.

But Mercator map projections are really bad at maintaining area. For a lot of of us, the forecast is widespread sufficient that it looks fine for us. In reality, Africa is expensive on the globe. But Greenland also shows up to be as huge as Africa, even though in truth it is only 1/14th the size. The Mercator puzzle game illustrates this point.

What is Your Favorite Map Projection?

Spatial referencing systems (latitude and longitude) are provided to find a attribute on the Earth’s spheroid surface. The place of any suggest on Planet have the right to be identified utilizing latitudes and longitudes. These points are expressed in angular systems such as levels, minutes, and also seconds.

Many maps in a GIS are in two-dimensional form. To manipulate these maps, you require reference devices that use a pair of works with.

However, once you transfer a spherical form to a level surchallenge, you approximate the true form of the Earth. Depending on the map estimate you select, some projections may cause distance in between features on a map to be preserved while distortion is introduced to shape. In some situations, the area may be kept while the direction is distorted.

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Cartographers pick map projections that finest represent the function, dimension, and shape of the location of interest on the map.