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CHAPTER 2: Maps, Remote Sensing, and GIS takes this form because rotation causes the region near

the equator to bulge outward to space. The angular

(a). Introduction to Maps motion caused by the Earth spinning on its axis also
forces the polar regions on the globe to be somewhat
A map can be simply defined as a graphic
representation of the real world. This representation is Representing the true shape of the Earth's surface on a
always an abstraction of reality. Because of the infinite map creates some problems, especially when this
nature of our Universe it is impossible to capture all of depiction is illustrated on a two-dimensional surface. To
the complexity found in the real world. For example, overcome these problems, cartographers have developed
topographic maps abstract the three-dimensional real a number of standardized transformation processes for
world at a reduced scale on a two-dimensional plane of the creation of two-dimensional maps. All of these
paper. transformation processes create some type of distortion
artifact. The nature of this distortion is related to how
the transformation process modifies specific geographic
Maps are used to display both cultural and physical
properties of the map. Some of the geographic
features of the environment. Standard topographic
properties affected by projection distortion include:
maps show a variety of information including roads,
distance; area; straight line direction between points on
land-use classification, elevation, rivers and other water
the Earth; and the bearing of cardinal points from
bodies, political boundaries, and the identification of
locations on our planet.
houses and other types of buildings. Some maps are
created with very specific goals in mind. Figure 2a-1
displays a weather map showing the location of low The illustrations below show some of the common map
and high pressure centers and fronts over most of projections used today. The first two-dimensional
North America. The intended purpose of this map is projection shows the Earth's surface as viewed from
considerably more specialized than a topographic map. space (Figure 2a-2). This orthographic projection
distorts distance, shape, and the size of areas. Another
serious limitation of this projection is that only a portion
The art of map construction is called cartography.
of the Earth's surface can be viewed at any one time.
People who work in this field of knowledge are called
cartographers. The construction and use of maps has a
long history. Some academics believe that the earliest The second illustration displays a Mercator projection
maps date back to the fifth or sixth century BC. Even in of the Earth (Figure 2a-3). On a Mercator projection,
these early maps, the main goal of this tool was to the north-south scale increases from the equator at the
communicate information. Early maps were quite same rate as the corresponding east-west scale. As a
subjective in their presentation of spatial information. result of this feature, angles drawn on this type of map
Maps became more objective with the dawn of Western are correct. Distortion on a Mercator map increases at an
science. The application of scientific method into increasing rate as one moves toward higher latitudes.
cartography made maps more ordered and accurate. Mercator maps are used in navigation because a line
Today, the art of map making is quite a sophisticated drawn between two points of the Earth has true
science employing methods from cartography, direction. However, this line may not represent the
engineering, computer science, mathematics, and shortest distance between these points.
The Gall-Peters projection was developed to correct
Cartographers classify maps into two broad categories: some of the distortion found in the Mercator system
reference maps and thematic maps. Reference maps (Figure 2a-4). The Mercator projection causes area to
normally show natural and human-made objects from be gradually distorted from the equator to the poles.
the geographical environment with an emphasis on This distortion makes middle and high latitude countries
location. Examples of general reference maps include to be bigger than they are in reality. The Gall-Peters
maps found in atlases and topographic maps. Thematic projection corrects this distortion making the area
maps are used to display the geographical distribution of occupied by the world's nations more comparable.
one phenomenon or the spatial associations that occur
between a number of phenomena. The Miller Cylindrical projection is another common
two-dimensional map used to represent the entire Earth
Map Projection in a rectangular area (Figure 2a-5). In this project, the
Earth is mathematically projected onto a cylinder
tangent at the equator. This projection in then unrolled
The shape of the Earth's surface can be described as an
to produce a flat two-dimensional representation of the
ellipsoid. An ellipsoid is a three-dimensional shape that
Earth's surface. This projection reduces some of the
departs slightly from a purely spherical form. The Earth
scale exaggeration present in the Mercator map. Maps are often described, in a relative sense, as being
However, the Miller Cylindrical projection describes either small scale or large scale. Figure 2a-10 helps to
shapes and areas with considerable distortion and explain this concept. In Figure 2a-10, we have maps
directions are true only along the equator. representing an area of the world at scales of 1:100,000,
1:50,000, and 1:25,000. Of this group, the map drawn at
Figure 2a-6 displays the Robinson projection. This 1:100,000 has the smallest scale relative to the other two
projection was developed to show the entire Earth with maps. The map with the largest scale is map C which is
less distortion of area. However, this feature requires a drawn at a scale of 1:25,000.
tradeoff in terms of inaccurate map direction and
distance. (b). Location, Distance, and Direction on Maps

The Mollweide projection improves on the Robinson Location on Maps

projection and has less area distortion (Figure 2a-7). Most maps allow us to specify the location of points on
The final projection presented presents areas on a map the Earth's surface using a coordinate system. For a two-
that are proportional to the same areas on the actual dimensional map, this coordinate system can use simple
surface of the Earth (Figure 2a-8). However, this geometric relationships between the perpendicular axes
Sinusoidal Equal-Area projection suffers from on a grid system to define spatial location. Figure 2b-1
distance, shape, and direction distortions. illustrates how the location of a point can be defined on
a coordinate system.
Map Scale
Two types of coordinate systems are currently in general
Maps are rarely drawn at the same scale as the real use in geography: the geographical coordinate system
world. Most maps are made at a scale that is much and the rectangular (also called Cartesian) coordinate
smaller than the area of the actual surface being system.
depicted. The amount of reduction that has taken place
is normally identified somewhere on the map. This Geographical Coordinate System
measurement is commonly referred to as the map scale.
Conceptually, we can think of map scale as the ratio The geographical coordinate system measures location
between the distance between any two points on the from only two values, despite the fact that the locations
map compared to the actual ground distance are described for a three-dimensional surface. The two
represented. This concept can also be expressed values used to define location are both measured relative
mathematically as: to the polar axis of the Earth. The two measures used in
the geographic coordinate system are called latitude
On most maps, the map scale is represented by a simple and longitude.
fraction or ratio. This type of description of a map's
scale is called a representative fraction. For example, a Latitude measures the north-south position of locations
map where one unit (centimeter, meter, inch, kilometer, on the Earth's surface relative to a point found at the
etc.) on the illustration represents 1,000,000 of these center of the Earth (Figure 2b-2). This central point is
same units on the actual surface of the Earth would have also located on the Earth's rotational or polar axis. The
a representative fraction of 1/1,000,000 (fraction) or equator is the starting point for the measurement of
1:1,000,000 (ratio). Of these mathematical latitude. The equator has a value of zero degrees. A line
representations of scale, the ratio form is most of latitude or parallel of 30° North has an angle that is
commonly found on maps. 30° north of the plane represented by the equator
(Figure 2b-3). The maximum value that latitude can
Scale can also be described on a map by a verbal attain is either 90° North or South. These lines of
statement. For example, 1:1,000,000 could be verbally latitude run parallel to the rotational axis of the Earth.
described as "1 centimeter on the map equals 10
kilometers on the Earth's surface" or "1 inch represents Longitude measures the west-east position of locations
approximately 16 miles". on the Earth's surface relative to a circular arc called the
Prime Meridian (Figure 2b-2). The position of the
Most maps also use graphic scale to describe the Prime Meridian was determined by international
distance relationships between the map and the real agreement to be in-line with the location of the former
world. In a graphic scale, an illustration is used to depict astronomical observatory at Greenwich, England.
distances on the map in common units of measurement Because the Earth's circumference is similar to circle, it
(Figure 2a-9). Graphic scales are quite useful because was decided to measure longitude in degrees. The
they can be used to measure distances on a map quickly. number of degrees found in a circle is 360. The Prime
Meridian has a value of zero degrees. A line of
longitude or meridian of 45° West has an angle that is identified by their number/letter designation. In total,
45° west of the plane represented by the Prime Meridian 1200 quadrilaterals are defined in the UTM system.
(Figure 2b-3). The maximum value that a meridian of
longitude can have is 180° which is the distance halfway The quadrilateral system allows us to further define
around a circle. This meridian is called the location using the UTM system. For the location 50°
International Date Line. Designations of west and east North and 9° West, the UTM coordinate can now be
are used to distinguish where a location is found relative expressed as Grid Zone 29U, 500000 meters E, 5538630
to the Prime Meridian. For example, all of the locations meters N.
in North America have a longitude that is designated
Each UTM quadrilateral is further subdivided into a
number of 100,000 by 100,000 meter zones. These
Universal Transverse Mercator System (UTM) subdivisions are coded by a system of letter
combinations where the same two-letter combination is
Another commonly used method to describe location on not repeated within 18 degrees of latitude and longitude.
the Earth is the Universal Transverse Mercator Within each of the 100,000 meter squares one can
(UTM) grid system. This rectangular coordinate specify location to one-meter accuracy using a 5 digit
system is metric, incorporating the meter as its basic eastings and northings reference system.
unit of measurement. UTM also uses the Transverse
Mercator projection system to model the Earth's The UTM grid system is displayed on all United States
spherical surface onto a two-dimensional plane. The Geological Survey (USGS) and National Topographic
UTM system divides the world's surface into 60 - six Series (NTS) of Canada maps. On USGS 7.5-minute
degree longitude wide zones that run north-south quadrangle maps (1:24,000 scale), 15-minute
(Figure 2b-5). These zones start at the International quadrangle maps (1:50,000, 1:62,500, and standard-
Date Line and are successively numbered in an eastward edition 1:63,360 scales), and Canadian 1:50,000 maps
direction (Figure 2b-5). Each zone stretches from 84° the UTM grid lines are drawn at intervals of 1,000
North to 80° South (Figure 2b-4). In the center of each meters, and are shown either with blue ticks at the edge
of these zones is a central meridian. Location is of the map or by full blue grid lines. On USGS maps at
measured in these zones from a false origin which is 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 scale and Canadian 1:250,000
determined relative to the intersection of the equator and scale maps a full UTM grid is shown at intervals of
the central meridian for each zone. For locations in the 10,000 meters. Figure 2b-6 describes how the UTM
Northern Hemisphere, the false origin is 500,000 meters grid system can be used to determine location on a
west of the central meridian on the equator. Coordinate 1:50,000 National Topographic Series of Canada
measurements of location in the Northern Hemisphere map.
using the UTM system are made relative to this point in
meters in eastings (longitudinal distance) and northings
Distance on Maps
(latitudinal distance). The point defined by the
intersection of 50° North and 9° West would have a
UTM coordinate of Zone 29, 500000 meters east (E), In section 2a, w e have learned that depicting the Earth's
5538630 meters north (N) (see Figures 2b-4 and 2b-5). three-dimensional surface on a two-dimensional map
In the Southern Hemisphere, the origin is 10,000,000 creates a number of distortions that involve distance,
meters south and 500,000 meters west of the equator area, and direction. It is possible to create maps that are
and central meridian, respectively. The location found at somewhat equidistance. However, even these types of
50° South and 9° West would have a UTM coordinate maps have some form of distance distortion.
of Zone 29, 500000 meters E, 4461369 meters N Equidistance maps can only control distortion along
(remember that northing in the Southern Hemisphere is either lines of latitude or lines of longitude. Distance is
measured from 10,000,000 meters south of the equator - often correct on equidistance maps only in the direction
see Figures 2b-4 and 2b-5). of latitude.

The UTM system has been modified to make On a map that has a large scale, 1:125,000 or larger,
measurements less confusing. In this modification, the distance distortion is usually insignificant. An example
six degree wide zones are divided into smaller pieces or of a large-scale map is a standard topographic map. On
quadrilaterals that are eight degrees of latitude tall. Each these maps measuring straight line distance is simple.
of these rows is labeled, starting at 80° South, with the Distance is first measured on the map using a ruler. This
letters C to X consecutively with I and O being omitted measurement is then converted into a real world
(Figure 2b-5). The last row X differs from the other distance using the map's scale. For example, if we
rows and extends from 72 to 84° North latitude (twelve measured a distance of 10 centimeters on a map that had
degrees tall). Each of the quadrilaterals or grid zones are a scale of 1:10,000, we would multiply 10 (distance) by
10,000 (scale). Thus, the actual distance in the real azimuth of 90° and 270°, respectively. Due south has an
world would be 100,000 centimeters. azimuth of 180°.

Measuring distance along map features that are not The bearing system divides direction into four quadrants
straight is a little more difficult. One technique that can of 90 degrees. In this system, north and south are the
be employed for this task is to use a number of straight- dominant directions. Measurements are determined in
line segments. The accuracy of this method is dependent degrees from one of these directions. The measurement
on the number of straight-line segments used (Figure of two angles based on this system are described in
2b-7). Another method for measuring curvilinear map Figure 2b-10.
distances is to use a mechanical device called an
opisometer. This device uses a small rotating wheel that Global Positioning Systems
records the distance traveled. The recorded distance is
measured by this device either in centimeters or inches.
Determination of location in field conditions was once a
difficult task. In most cases, it required the use of a
Direction on Maps topographic map and landscape features to estimate
location. However, technology has now made this task
Like distance, direction is difficult to measure on maps very simple. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) can
because of the distortion produced by projection calculate one's location to an accuracy of about 30-
systems. However, this distortion is quite small on maps meters (Figure 2b-11). These systems consist of two
with scales larger than 1:125,000. Direction is usually parts: a GPS receiver and a network of many satellites.
measured relative to the location of North or South Radio transmissions from the satellites are broadcasted
Pole. Directions determined from these locations are continually. The GPS receiver picks up these broadcasts
said to be relative to True North or True South. The and through triangulation calculates the altitude and
magnetic poles can also be used to measure direction. spatial position of the receiving unit. A minimum of
However, these points on the Earth are located in three satellite is required for triangulation.
spatially different spots from the geographic North and
South Pole. The North Magnetic Pole is located at
78.3° North, 104.0° West near Ellef Ringnes Island,
Canada. In the Southern Hemisphere, the South
Magnetic Pole is located in Commonwealth Day,
Antarctica and has a geographical location of 65° South,
139° East. The magnetic poles are also not fixed
overtime and shift their spatial position overtime.

Topographic maps normally have a declination diagram

drawn on them (Figure 2b-8). On Northern Hemisphere
maps, declination diagrams describe the angular
difference between Magnetic North and True North. On
the map, the angle of True North is parallel to the
depicted lines of longitude. Declination diagrams also
show the direction of Grid North. Grid North is an
angle that is parallel to the easting lines found on the
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid system
(Figure 2b-8).

In the field, the direction of features is often determined

by a magnetic compass which measures angles relative
to Magnetic North. Using the declination diagram found
on a map, individuals can convert their field measures of
magnetic direction into directions that are relative to
either Grid or True North. Compass directions can be
described by using either the azimuth system or the
bearing system. The azimuth system calculates
direction in degrees of a full circle. A full circle has 360
degrees (Figure 2b-9). In the azimuth system, north has
a direction of either the 0 or 360°. East and west have an