[Proj] "Double ellipsoid" case?

Noel Zinn ndzinn at comcast.net
Sun Nov 30 00:04:34 EST 2008

Not that Frank is responsible for the geodesy and cartography in Google Maps
(or their abuse therein), but the phrase "the resulting lat/long coordinates
are intended to be treated as WGS84 after that" so troubles me that I am
sympathetic to Cliff's sentiments.  So, let's quantify the offense with an
experiment that anyone can duplicate, perhaps in Proj4 (I work in Matlab).


Consider the following Mercator grid parameters defined on both WGS84 and
the Google Sphere (whose radius equals the semi-major axis of WGS84): CM =
95W, FN=FE=0.  That's all we need.


Now consider at point at 30N / 95W.  That's somewhere near Houston, Texas,
where I live.  Convert to Mercator in both systems.  Then traverse to the NE
about 141km in both systems by adding 100km to both the Northing and Easting
(in Mercator).  Convert the resulting Mercator coordinates back to
geographicals (lat / lon).


Here's what I get for WGS84:  30N / 95W is N3,503,549.84350437m / E0m with a
point scale (Mercator is conformal) of 1.15470053837925 and at the end of
the traverse the geographicals are 30-46-29.63568N /


For the Google Sphere the results are:  30N / 95W is N3,482,189.08540862m /
E0m with a point scale of 1.15373388324025 and at the end of the traverse
the geographicals are 30-46-43.56897N /  94-06-06.06498W.


Pardon the excessive precision; it's just what I get.  And I hope that I
haven't blundered in my haste to respond.  Perhaps someone can confirm.


Interestingly, the longitudes are the same, but the latitudes are very
different (more than might be accounted for by the scale differences, a
cartographic subtlety likely beyond the ken of most Google Maps users
anyway).  I don't believe the resulting lat/long coordinates can be treated
as WGS84 at all.  


Noel Zinn



From: proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org
[mailto:proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org] On Behalf Of Clifford J Mugnier
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 8:15 AM
To: PROJ.4 and general Projections Discussions
Subject: RE: [Proj] "Double ellipsoid" case?




Ah, there's a BIG difference between the true coordinate system relations of
geodesy used by national governments and one cooked up by an ignoramus at
Google Maps that did not know what they were doing ... I guess there's a lot
of that going around, too.


I suppose even twits help contribute to keep knowledgeable consultants in


Cliff Mugnier




From: proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org on behalf of Frank Warmerdam
Sent: Fri 28-Nov-08 10:52
To: PROJ.4 and general Projections Discussions
Subject: Re: [Proj] "Double ellipsoid" case?

support.mn at elisanet.fi wrote:
> Hello,
> I just started to think about a situation where there might be a double
> ellipsoid case.
> 1) projection uses ellipsoid A independently
> 2) datum shift uses ellipsoid B
> Is this possible to be handled with proj.4? Since there is only one
> ellipsoid definition available


PROJ.4 does not currently handle this situation conveniently.  One special
case is where the projection uses a particular ellipsoid, but datum shifts
should treat the corresponding lat/long values as being WGS84. In that
special case you can use +nadgrids=@null to effectively say the datum shift
to WGS84 is a no-op.

I have at times contemplated having a way of having a datum/ellipsoid
definition used for datum shifting purposes that is independent of the
normal ellipsoid used by the projection functions but I have not pursued it.

Clifford J Mugnier wrote:
 > I've seen a few projections and datums in my day, and I've never come
 > accross that.  For there to be a different ellipsoid of reference for a
 > projection than there is for a datum is a contradiction in terms.


The very common case we see a lot these days is the google maps mercator
projection.  The mercator calculations are done based on a particular
spherical earth model, but the resulting lat/long coordinates are intended
to be treated as WGS84 after that.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam,
warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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