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Geographic coordinate system (basic)

Geographic coordinate system (basic)

The system of circles of latitude and longitude on the globe enable every location on the Earth to be exactly specified.

Geography

Keywords

geographic coordinate system, line of latitude, longitude, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, western hemisphere, eastern hemisphere, major lines of latitude, International Date Line, Arctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle, Earth, geography

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The simplest way to specify any location on the Earth is to provide its coordinates. The geographic coordinate system is made up of lines of latitude and longitude.

A line of latitude is an arc of a circle parallel to the Equator, whose plane is perpendicular to the axis of rotation.

Zero degrees latitude is called the Equator. It divides the Earth into the northern and southern hemispheres. Away from the Equator, latitude increases to 90°, at the poles. When specifying the latitude coordinates of a point we need to indicate whether the value of the degree refers to lines of latitude North or South.

Important lines of latitude are the Arctic and the Antarctic Circles that run at 66.5° latitude. The Tropic of Cancer lies at 23.5° north of the Equator. The Tropic of Capricorn is located 23.5° south of the Equator. The major lines of latitude mark the boundary of climatic zones.

A line of longitude is a curve connecting the North and the South Poles on the shortest path. The plane defined by the lines of longitude coincides with the Earth’s axis of rotation. Zero degrees longitude is called the Prime Meridian. Away from here, longitude increases on both hemispheres to 180°. The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich, on the outskirts of London.

On the opposite side of the prime meridian, at 180° longitude, lies the InternationalDate Line. When specifying the longitude coordinates of a point we need to indicate whether the value of the degree refers to lines of longitude east or west.

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