About Map Projection-The Classification of Map Projection

Posted on Feb 29, 2008 By : Mizake Laziaf
Navigation:
1) What is a Map Projection?
2) Scale distortions on a Map
3)
4) The classification of Map Projections
5)
6) Map Projections in common use
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References
Knippers, R.A. (1998). Coordinate systems and Map projections. Non-published notes, Enschede, ITC.
Knippers, R.A. (1999). Geometric Aspects of Mapping. Non-published notes, Enschede, ITC.
Stefanovic, P. (1996) Georeferencing and Coordinate Transformations. Non-published notes. Enschede, ITC.

The Classification of Map Projection
Next to their property (equivalence, equidistance, conformality), map projections can be discribed in terms of their class (azimuthal, cylindrical, conical) and aspect (normal, transverse, oblique).
The three classes of map projections are cylindrical, conical and azimuthal.The earth's surface projected on a map wrapped around the globe as a cylinder produces the cylindrical map projection. Projected on a map formed into a cone gives a conical map projection. When projected on a planar map it produces an azimuthal or zenithal map projections.
 The three classes of map projections
The three classes of map projections
Projections can also be described in terms of their aspect: the direction of the projection plane's orientation (whether cylinder, plane or cone) with respect to the globe. The three possible apects of a map projection are normal, transverse and oblique. In a normal projection, the main orientation of the projection surface is parallel to the earth's axis (as in the second figure below). A transverse projection has its main orientation perpendicular to the earth's axis. Oblique projections are all other, non-parallel and non-perpendicular, cases. The figure below provides two examples.
tangent to the reference surface
A transverse cylindrical and an oblique conical map projection. Both are tangent to the reference surface

The terms polar, oblique and equatorial are also used. In a polar azimuthal projection the projection surface is tangent or secant at the pole. In a equatorial azimuthal or equatorial cylindrical projection, the projection surface is tangent or secant at the equator. In an oblique projection the projection surface is tangent or secant anywhere else.
A map projection can be tangent to the globe, meaning that it is positioned so that the projection surface just touches the globe. Alternatively, it can be secant to the globe, meaning that the projection surface intersects the globe. The figure below provides illustrations.
cylindrical, conical and azimuthal
Three normal secant projections: cylindrical, conical and azimuthal
A final descriptor may be the name of the inventor of the projection, such as Mercator, Lambert, Robinson, Cassini etc., but these names are not very helpful because sometimes one person invented several projections, or several people have invented the same projection. For example J.H.Lambert described half a dozen projections. Any of these might be called 'Lambert's projection', but each need additional description to be recognized.
It is now possible to describe a certain projection as, for example,
  • Polar stereographic azimuthal projection with secant projection plane
  • Lambert conformal conic projection with two standard parallels
  • Lambert cylindrical equal-area projection with equidistant equator
  • Transverse Mercator projection with secant projection plane.
The question may arise here 'Why are there so many map projections?'. The main reason is that there is no one projection best overall (see section 4.5 selecting a suitable map projection )
Activity The diagram below shows the developable surface of the Lambert conformal conic projection with two standard parallels. developable surface of the Lambert conformal conic projection
Answer the following questions:
    1. Which developable surface is used?
    2. Is it a tangential or a secant projection?
    3. What is the position of the developable surface?
    4. Describe some of the scale distortion characteristics.
    5. Are areas correctly represented?
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Already One Awesome ,» Be Another Awesome to About Map Projection-The Classification of Map Projection

  1. Sheetanchor said... on October 23, 2009 at 8:23 AM

    The last paragraph appears to have been lifted from the Remote Learning course module, projections and co-ordinates. Attributed to Oxtoby, P. 1986

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