What is a UTM grid zone?

What is a UTM grid zone?

The UTM coordinate system splits the earth into sixty north-south zones, each 6 degrees longitude wide. UTM zones are numbered sequentially, beginning with Zone 1 (Alaska's westernmost point) and going eastward to Zone 19, which encompasses Maine. The entire continent is divided into four quadrants, with each quadrant assigned to one of these zones. For example, North America is divided into two UTM zones: 17 and 18.

Each zone has three or four letters that describe its geographic location. For example, Zone 17TL describes an area that starts in Alaska and ends in Mexico. There are several ways to identify a UTM zone. One method is to add the first letter of the inclusive range of latitude and longitude that it covers. So, for example, TL stands for "Tropic Ocean." Another method is to add the first letter of the country or countries that contain at least half of its longitude. So, for example, TF stands for "Territorial France." A final method is to add the number of the quadrant that contains at least half of its longitude. So, for example, T17 stands for "Quadrant 17."

A fourth letter is added to indicate whether the zone falls within continental Europe or not.

What is UTM Easting?

Within each zone, coordinates are measured in meters as northings and eastings. The northing values are measured northward from zero at the equator. The easting values are measured eastward from a fixed point on the globe called the origin.

Each location has an associated set of northings and eastings. The pair of numbers that describe this location are called UTM coordinates. They are specified as a distance in meters along with a direction, usually north or south.

For example, a location may be described as UTM Zone 15N 421066. This means that the location is 15 miles north of Paris, France and 4,102 feet above sea level.

UTM coordinates can be entered into GPS devices to convert them into latitude and longitude coordinates. From there, you can insert these into any mapping application to get a visual representation of the location.

Some GPS devices can also enter UTM coordinates directly, which saves time since you do not have to first convert them into latitude and longitude coordinates.

UTM coordinates were developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for use with GIS software.

How many UTM zones are there on Earth?

The UTM projection splits the globe into 60 zones, each 6 degrees longitude wide. Within each zone, there is a reference for UTM grid coordinates. UTM zones are defined as extending from 80 degrees south to 84 degrees north. The Universal Polar Grid System is used in polar locations (to be discussed in a different post).

There are three types of coordinates used by astronomers: right ascension and declination, longitude and latitude. Right ascension is measured along a circle as it rotates around the North Star (or any other fixed star), while declination is measured along the equator. Longitude and latitude are measurements along the surface of the earth. They are two different ways of describing the same thing - but where you are on the surface of the earth is important when discussing directions or locations.

Right ascension and declination are used for objects that do not change their location relative to Earth's center of mass (for example, the Moon), while longitude and latitude are used for objects that do (such as stars). Coordinate systems are important for comparing positions across distances or over time. For example, an astronomer might want to know what position a particular star was in hundreds of years ago, or how far away planets are compared to the Sun.

UTM coordinates are useful for plotting positions on a map, because they extend beyond the northern hemisphere and avoid confusion with latitude codes used in the southern hemisphere.

How wide is the UTM zone at the equator?

Each UTM zone covers 6 degrees of longitude, ranging from 84 degrees north to 80 degrees south. Zones narrow from 666,000 meters at the Equator (where 1 degree of longitude is around 111 kilometers long) to only about 70,000 meters at 84 degrees North and 116,000 meters at 80 degrees South. The zones get wider as they go farther from the Equator - but not by much.

At the Equator, each UTM zone covers about 3,500 kilometers from east to west. But at the poles, where there are no changes in direction, the zones cover only 2,400 kilometers from east to west.

The zones were developed in the 1960s by members of the International Geographic Union (now known as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO). They try to balance how far away landmarks such as cities or mountain ranges are from their centers with how large an area they want to cover.

For example, the Pacific Ocean occupies about half of Earth's surface area, but only makes up 0.1% of its volume. To keep geographic distances consistent across many areas, scientists usually measure distance along great circles - such as the equator or the prime meridian running through London - and then convert them to geographical distances by using a geographers' convention called "azimuthal projection."

What is UTM on the map?

UTM is an abbreviation for Universal Transverse Mercator, a planar coordinate grid system called after the map projection it is based on (Transverse Mercator). The UTM system is divided into 60 zones, each of which is 6 degrees longitude wide. The entire world is covered by a single UTM zone, but there are other projections available for particular applications.

Each latitude-longitude pair has its own unique ID called a "coordinate." A location can be described as any point on Earth's surface using these coordinates. For example, a street address, city name, or GPS location all represent points in space. Geographers and GIS professionals use coordinates to identify locations and to describe their relationships to one another.

Most modern maps are designed to be viewed using a web browser with the Google Maps application installed. Users can zoom in and out and scroll around the map. These markers can be places or objects such as buildings, roads, or airports. Markers often have a photo associated with them that displays when they are clicked on.

UTM coordinates were first introduced in 1972 by Jules Verne from the International Hydrographic Organization. The United States Army adopted them for use with military maps in 1979. In 1983, the United Nations approved UTM as the global standard for geographic coordinates.

About Article Author

Desiree Swartz

Desiree Swartz is a passionate teacher who loves to help others learn. She has been teaching for over 10 years and enjoys every day that she gets to go to work. Desiree enjoys teaching all ages, but her favorite are the elementary students because they make such great students she says.


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