You are on page 1of 8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

WorldGeodeticSystem
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

TheWorldGeodeticSystem(WGS)isastandardforuseincartography,geodesy,andnavigationincludingbyGPS.Itcomprisesastandard
coordinatesystemfortheEarth,astandardspheroidalreferencesurface(thedatumorreferenceellipsoid)forrawaltitudedata,anda
gravitationalequipotentialsurface(thegeoid)thatdefinesthenominalsealevel.
ThelatestrevisionisWGS84(akaWGS1984,EPSG:4326),establishedin1984andlastrevisedin2004.[1]EarlierschemesincludedWGS
72,WGS66,andWGS60.WGS84isthereferencecoordinatesystemusedbytheGlobalPositioningSystem.

Contents
1
2
3
4
5

Mainparameters
History
TheUnitedStatesDepartmentofDefenseWorldGeodeticSystem1966
TheUnitedStatesDepartmentofDefenseWorldGeodeticSystem1972
AnewWorldGeodeticSystem:WGS84
5.1 LongitudesonWGS84
5.2 Updatesandnewstandards
6 Seealso
7 References
8 Externallinks

Mainparameters
ThecoordinateoriginofWGS84ismeanttobelocatedattheEarth'scenterofmasstheerrorisbelievedtobelessthan2cm.[2]
TheWGS84meridianofzerolongitudeistheIERSReferenceMeridian,[3]5.31arcsecondsor102.5metres(336.3ft)eastoftheGreenwich
meridianatthelatitudeoftheRoyalObservatory.[4][5]
TheWGS84datumsurfaceisanoblatespheroid(ellipsoid)withmajor(equatorial)radiusa=6 378 137mattheequatorandflatteningf=
1/298.257 223 563.[6]Thepolarsemiminoraxisbthenequalsatimes(1f),or6 356 752.3142m.[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

1/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Currently,WGS84usestheEGM96(EarthGravitationalModel1996)geoid,revisedin2004.Thisgeoiddefinesthenominalsealevelsurface
bymeansofasphericalharmonicsseriesofdegree360(whichprovidesabout100kmlatitudinalresolutionneartheEquator).[7]The
deviationsoftheEGM96geoidfromtheWGS84referenceellipsoidrangefromabout105mtoabout+85m.[8]EGM96differsfromthe
originalWGS84geoid,referredtoasEGM84.

History
Effortstosupplementthevariousnationalsurveyingsystemsbeganinthe19thcenturywithF.R.Helmert'sfamousbookMathematischeund
PhysikalischeTheorienderPhysikalischenGeodsie(MathematicalandPhysicalTheoriesofPhysicalGeodesy).AustriaandGermany
foundedtheZentralbrofrdieInternationaleErdmessung(CentralBureauofInternationalGeodesy),andaseriesofglobalellipsoidsofthe
Earthwerederived(e.g.,Helmert1906,Hayford1910/1924).
Aunifiedgeodeticsystemforthewholeworldbecameessentialinthe1950sforseveralreasons:
Internationalspacescienceandthebeginningofastronautics.
Thelackofintercontinentalgeodeticinformation.
Theinabilityofthelargegeodeticsystems,suchasEuropeanDatum(ED50),NorthAmericanDatum(NAD),andTokyoDatum(TD),
toprovideaworldwidegeodatabasis
Needforglobalmapsfornavigation,aviation,andgeography.
WesternColdWarpreparednessnecessitatedastandardised,NATOwidegeospatialreferencesystem,inaccordancewiththeNATO
StandardisationAgreement
Inthelate1950s,theUnitedStatesDepartmentofDefense,togetherwithscientistsofotherinstitutionsandcountries,begantodevelopthe
neededworldsystemtowhichgeodeticdatacouldbereferredandcompatibilityestablishedbetweenthecoordinatesofwidelyseparatedsites
ofinterest.EffortsoftheU.S.Army,NavyandAirForcewerecombinedleadingtotheDoDWorldGeodeticSystem1960(WGS60).The
termdatumasusedherereferstoasmoothsurfacesomewhatarbitrarilydefinedaszeroelevation,consistentwithasetofsurveyor'smeasures
ofdistancesbetweenvariousstations,anddifferencesinelevation,allreducedtoagridoflatitudes,longitudes,andelevations.Heritage
surveyingmethodsfoundelevationdifferencesfromalocalhorizontaldeterminedbythespiritlevel,plumbline,oranequivalentdevicethat
dependsonthelocalgravityfield(seephysicalgeodesy).Asaresult,theelevationsinthedataarereferencedtothegeoid,asurfacethatisnot
readilyfoundusingsatellitegeodesy.Thelatterobservationalmethodismoresuitableforglobalmapping.Therefore,amotivation,anda
substantialproblemintheWGSandsimilarworkistopatchtogetherdatathatwerenotonlymadeseparately,fordifferentregions,buttore
referencetheelevationstoanellipsoidmodelratherthantothegeoid.
InaccomplishingWGS60,acombinationofavailablesurfacegravitydata,astrogeodeticdataandresultsfromHIRAN[9]andCanadian
SHORANsurveyswereusedtodefineabestfittingellipsoidandanearthcenteredorientationforeachofinitiallyselecteddatum.(Every
datumisrelativelyorientedwithrespecttodifferentportionsofthegeoidbytheastrogeodeticmethodsalreadydescribed.)Thesole
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

2/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

contributionofsatellitedatatothedevelopmentofWGS60wasavaluefortheellipsoidflatteningwhichwasobtainedfromthenodalmotion
ofasatellite.
PriortoWGS60,theU.S.ArmyandU.S.AirForcehadeachdevelopedaworldsystembyusing
differentapproachestothegravimetricdatumorientationmethod.Todeterminetheirgravimetric
orientationparameters,theAirForceusedthemeanofthedifferencesbetweenthegravimetricand
astrogeodeticdeflectionsandgeoidheights(undulations)atspecificallyselectedstationsintheareas
ofthemajordatums.TheArmyperformedanadjustmenttominimizethedifferencebetweenastro
geodeticandgravimetricgeoids.Bymatchingtherelativeastrogeodeticgeoidsoftheselecteddatums
withanearthcenteredgravimetricgeoid,theselecteddatumswerereducedtoanearthcentered
orientation.SincetheArmyandAirForcesystemsagreedremarkablywellfortheNAD,EDandTD
areas,theywereconsolidatedandbecameWGS60.

TheUnitedStatesDepartmentofDefenseWorldGeodetic
System1966

Gravimetricdatumorientation

StepstotheimprovementofaglobalsystemweretheAstrogeoidofIreneFischerandtheastronauticMercurydatum.InJanuary1966,a
WorldGeodeticSystemCommitteecomposedofrepresentativesfromtheUnitedStatesArmy,NavyandAirForce,waschargedwiththe
responsibilityofdevelopinganimprovedWGSneededtosatisfymapping,chartingandgeodeticrequirements.Additionalsurfacegravity
observations,resultsfromtheextensionoftriangulationandtrilaterationnetworks,andlargeamountsofDopplerandopticalsatellitedatahad
becomeavailablesincethedevelopmentofWGS60.Usingtheadditionaldataandimprovedtechniques,WGS66wasproducedwhichserved
DoDneedsforaboutfiveyearsafteritsimplementationin1967.ThedefiningparametersoftheWGS66Ellipsoidweretheflattening
(1/298.25),determinedfromsatellitedataandthesemimajoraxis(6,378,145meters),determinedfromacombinationofDopplersatelliteand
astrogeodeticdata.Aworldwide55meanfreeairgravityanomalyfieldprovidedthebasicdataforproducingtheWGS66gravimetric
geoid.Also,ageoidreferencedtotheWGS66Ellipsoidwasderivedfromavailableastrogeodeticdatatoprovideadetailedrepresentationof
limitedlandareas.

TheUnitedStatesDepartmentofDefenseWorldGeodeticSystem1972
Afteranextensiveeffortextendingoveraperiodofapproximatelythreeyears,theDepartmentofDefenseWorldGeodeticSystem1972was
completed.Selectedsatellite,surfacegravityandastrogeodeticdataavailablethrough1972frombothDoDandnonDoDsourceswereusedin
aUnifiedWGSSolution(alargescaleleastsquaresadjustment).Theresultsoftheadjustmentconsistedofcorrectionstoinitialstation
coordinatesandcoefficientsofthegravitationalfield.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

3/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

ThelargestcollectionofdataeverusedforWGSpurposeswasassembled,processedandappliedinthedevelopmentofWGS72.Bothoptical
andelectronicsatellitedatawereused.Theelectronicsatellitedataconsisted,inpart,ofDopplerdataprovidedbytheU.S.Navyand
cooperatingnonDoDsatellitetrackingstationsestablishedinsupportoftheNavy'sNavigationalSatelliteSystem(NNSS).Dopplerdatawas
alsoavailablefromthenumeroussitesestablishedbyGEOCEIVERSduring1971and1972.Dopplerdatawastheprimarydatasourcefor
WGS72(Figure38).AdditionalelectronicsatellitedatawasprovidedbytheSECOR(SequentialCollationofRange)EquatorialNetwork
completedbytheU.S.Armyin1970.OpticalsatellitedatafromtheWorldwideGeometricSatelliteTriangulationProgramwasprovidedby
theBC4camerasystem(Figure39).DatafromtheSmithsonianAstrophysicalObservatorywasalsousedwhichincludedcamera(Baker
Nunn)andsomelaserranging.
ThesurfacegravityfieldusedintheUnifiedWGSSolutionconsistedofasetof4101010equal
areameanfreeairgravityanomaliesdeterminedsolelyfromterrestrialdata.Thisgravityfieldincludes
meananomalyvaluescompileddirectlyfromobservedgravitydatawhereverthelatterwasavailable
insufficientquantity.Thevalueforareasofsparseornoobservationaldataweredevelopedfrom
geophysicallycompatiblegravityapproximationsusinggravitygeophysicalcorrelationtechniques.
Approximately45percentofthe410meanfreeairgravityanomalyvaluesweredetermineddirectly
fromobservedgravitydata.
Theastrogeodeticdatainitsbasicformconsistsofdeflectionoftheverticalcomponentsreferredto
thevariousnationalgeodeticdatums.Thesedeflectionvalueswereintegratedintoastrogeodeticgeoid
chartsreferredtothesenationaldatums.ThegeoidheightscontributedtotheUnifiedWGSSolution
byprovidingadditionalandmoredetaileddataforlandareas.Conventionalgroundsurveydatawas
includedinthesolutiontoenforceaconsistentadjustmentofthecoordinatesofneighboring
observationsitesoftheBC4,SECOR,DopplerandBakerNunnsystems.Also,eightgeodimeterlong
lineprecisetraverseswereincludedforthepurposeofcontrollingthescaleofthesolution.

Dopplersatellitegroundstations
providingdataforWGS72
development

TheUnifiedWGSSolution,asstatedabove,wasasolutionforgeodeticpositionsandassociated
parametersofthegravitationalfieldbasedonanoptimumcombinationofavailabledata.TheWGS72
ellipsoidparameters,datumshiftsandotherassociatedconstantswerederivedseparately.Forthe
unifiedsolution,anormalequationmatrixwasformedbasedoneachofthementioneddatasets.Then,
theindividualnormalequationmatriceswerecombinedandtheresultantmatrixsolvedtoobtainthe
positionsandtheparameters.
Worldwidegeometricsatellite
Thevalueforthesemimajoraxis(a)oftheWGS72Ellipsoidis6378135meters.Theadoptionofan
triangulationnetwork,BC4cameras
avalue10meterssmallerthanthatfortheWGS66Ellipsoidwasbasedonseveralcalculationsand
indicatorsincludingacombinationofsatelliteandsurfacegravitydataforpositionandgravitational
fielddeterminations.Setsofsatellitederivedstationcoordinatesandgravimetricdeflectionoftheverticalandgeoidheightdatawereusedto
determinelocaltogeocentricdatumshifts,datumrotationparameters,adatumscaleparameterandavalueforthesemimajoraxisoftheWGS
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

4/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Ellipsoid.Eightsolutionsweremadewiththevarioussetsofinputdata,bothfromaninvestigativepointofviewandalsobecauseofthe
limitednumberofunknownswhichcouldbesolvedforinanyindividualsolutionduetocomputerlimitations.SelectedDopplersatellite
trackingandastrogeodeticdatumorientationstationswereincludedinthevarioussolutions.Basedontheseresultsandotherrelatedstudies
accomplishedbytheCommittee,anavalueof6378135metersandaflatteningof1/298.26wereadopted.
InthedevelopmentoflocaltoWGS72datumshifts,resultsfromdifferentgeodeticdisciplineswereinvestigated,analyzedandcompared.
ThoseshiftsadoptedwerebasedprimarilyonalargenumberofDopplerTRANETandGEOCEIVERstationcoordinateswhichwere
availableworldwide.ThesecoordinateshadbeendeterminedusingtheDopplerpointpositioningmethod.

AnewWorldGeodeticSystem:WGS84
Intheearly1980stheneedforanewworldgeodeticsystemwasgenerallyrecognizedbythegeodetic
communityandalsowithintheUSDepartmentofDefense.WGS72nolongerprovidedsufficientdata,
information,geographiccoverage,orproductaccuracyforallthencurrentandanticipatedapplications.
ThemeansforproducinganewWGSwereavailableintheformofimproveddata,increaseddata
coverage,newdatatypesandimprovedtechniques.GRS80parameterstogetherwithavailable
Doppler,satellitelaserrangingandVeryLongBaselineInterferometry(VLBI)observationsconstituted
significantnewinformation.Anoutstandingnewsourceofdatahadbecomeavailablefromsatellite
radaraltimetry.Alsoavailablewasanadvancedleastsquaresmethodcalledcollocationwhichallowed
foraconsistentcombinationsolutionfromdifferenttypesofmeasurementsallrelativetotheEarth's
gravityfield,i.e.geoid,gravityanomalies,deflections,dynamicDoppler,etc.
ThenewWorldGeodeticSystemwascalledWGS84.Itiscurrentlythereferencesystembeingusedby
theGlobalPositioningSystem.Itisgeocentricandgloballyconsistentwithin1m.Currentgeodetic
realizationsofthegeocentricreferencesystemfamilyInternationalTerrestrialReferenceSystem
(ITRS)maintainedbytheIERSaregeocentric,andinternallyconsistent,atthefewcmlevel,whilestillbeingmetrelevelconsistentwith
WGS84.
WGS84referenceframe.

TheWGS84originallyusedtheGRS80referenceellipsoid,buthasundergonesomeminorrefinementsinlatereditionssinceitsinitial
publication.Mostoftheserefinementsareimportantforhighprecisionorbitalcalculationsforsatellitesbuthavelittlepracticaleffecton
typicaltopographicaluses.Thefollowingtableliststheprimaryellipsoidparameters.
Ellipsoidreference Semimajoraxisa

Semiminoraxisb

Inverseflattening(1/f)

GRS80

6378137.0m

6356752.314140m 298.257222100882711...

WGS84

6378137.0m

6356752.314245m 298.257223563

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

5/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Theverysmalldifferenceintheflatteningthusresultsinatinydifferenceof0.105mminthesemipolaraxis.

LongitudesonWGS84
WGS84usestheIERSReferenceMeridianasdefinedbytheBureauInternationaldel'Heure,[3]whichwasdefinedby
compilationofstarobservationsindifferentcountries.Themeanofthisdatacausedashiftofabout100metreseast
awayfromtheAirytransitcircleattheRoyalObservatory,Greenwich.[5]
ThelongitudepositionsonWGS84agreewiththoseontheolderNorthAmericanDatum1927atroughly85longitude
west,intheeastcentralUnitedStates.

Updatesandnewstandards
ThelatestmajorrevisionofWGS84isalsoreferredtoas"EarthGravitationalModel1996"(EGM96),firstpublishedin
1996,withrevisionsasrecentas2004.ThismodelhasthesamereferenceellipsoidasWGS84,buthasahigherfidelity
geoid(roughly100kmresolutionversus200kmfortheoriginalWGS84).
ManyoftheoriginalauthorsofWGS84contributedtoanewhigherfidelitymodel,calledEGM2008.[10]Thisnew
modelwillhaveageoidwitharesolutionapproaching10km,requiringover4.6milliontermsinthespherical
expansion(versus130,317inEGM96and32,757inWGS84).

HandheldGPS
receiverindicating
theGreenwich
meridianis0.089
arcminutes(or
5.34arcseconds)
westtothe
WGS84datum

Seealso
GPS
TRANSITsystem
NAD83
ETRS89
EGM96
Geo(microformat)formarkingupWGS84coordinatesin(X)HTML
DegreeConfluenceProject
Geotagging
PointofInterest

References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

6/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

1."WorldGeodeticSystemwebsiteoftheNGA(archivedApril2012)".
NationalGeospatialIntelligenceAgency.Archivedfromtheoriginal
onApril2,2012.
2."TheEGM96GeoidUndulationwithRespecttotheWGS84
Ellipsoid".NASA.
3.EuropeanOrganisationfortheSafetyofAirNavigationandIfEN:
WGS84ImplementationManual,p.13.1998
4.HistoryofthePrimeMeridianPastandPresent(http://gpsinformation.
net/main/greenwich.htm)
5.NationalMaritimeMuseum:"TheLongitudeofGreenwich(http://ww
w.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/conWebDoc.416)"

6.NationalImageryandMappingAgencyTechnicalReportTR8350.2
ThirdEdition,Amendment1,1Jan2000,"DepartmentofDefense
WorldGeodeticSystem1984"
7.NGA/NASAEGM96,N=M=360EarthGravitationalModel(http://ear
thinfo.nga.mil/GandG/wgs84/gravitymod/egm96/egm96.html)
8.EGM9615'15'GeoidUndulationPlot(http://earthinfo.nga.mil/Gan
dG/images/ww15mgh2.gif)
9.http://www.history.noaa.gov/stories_tales/ak7.html
10.EarthGravitationalModel2008(EGM2008)WGS84Version(http://
earthinfo.nga.mil/GandG/wgs84/gravitymod/egm2008/index.html)

Externallinks
GeodesyfortheLayman,ChapterVIII,"TheWorldGeodeticSystem"(http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/PUBS_LIB/Geodesy4Layman/TR8000
3E.HTM#ZZ11)
NIMATechnicalReportTR8350.2(http://earthinfo.nga.mil/GandG/publications/tr8350.2/tr8350_2.html)DepartmentofDefenseWorld
GeodeticSystem1984,ItsDefinitionandRelationshipsWithLocalGeodeticSystems,ThirdEdition,NationalGeospatialIntelligence
Agency.Thisistheofficialpublicationofthestandard,includingaddenda.NotethisreportactuallydocumentstheEGM96model(a
revisionofWGS84).TheoriginalWGS84isdocumentedinversionspriorto1996.
MainNGA(wasNIMA)pageonEarthgravitymodels(http://earthinfo.nga.mil/GandG/wgs84/)
Descriptionofthedifferencebetweenthegeoidandtheellipsoid(http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/GEOID/geoid_def.html)fromtheUS
NOAANationalGeodeticSurveyGEOIDpage(http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/GEOID/)
NASAGSFCEarthgravitypage(http://cddis.gsfc.nasa.gov/egm96/egm96.html)
GeographicLib(http://geographiclib.sourceforge.net)providesautilityGeoidEval(withsourcecode)toevaluatethegeoidheightforthe
EGM84,EGM96,andEGM2008earthgravitymodels.HereisanonlineversionofGeoidEval(http://geographiclib.sourceforge.net/cgi
bin/GeoidEval).
SpatialreferenceforEPSG:4326(https://epsg.io/4326)
ThisarticleincorporatespublicdomainmaterialfromwebsitesordocumentsoftheNationalGeodeticSurvey.
Retrievedfrom"https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=World_Geodetic_System&oldid=720792109"
Categories: Geodesy Navigation GlobalPositioningSystem World
Thispagewaslastmodifiedon17May2016,at23:54.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

7/8

6/3/2016

WorldGeodeticSystemWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

TextisavailableundertheCreativeCommonsAttributionShareAlikeLicenseadditionaltermsmayapply.Byusingthissite,youagree
totheTermsofUseandPrivacyPolicy.WikipediaisaregisteredtrademarkoftheWikimediaFoundation,Inc.,anonprofit
organization.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

8/8