Universal Polar Stereographic coordinate system

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The Universal Polar Stereographic (UPS) coordinate system is used in conjunction with the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system to locate positions on the surface of the earth. Like the UTM coordinate system, the UPS coordinate system uses a metric-based cartesian grid laid out on a conformally projected surface. UPS covers the Earth's polar regions, specifically the areas north of 84° N and south of 80° South, which are not covered by the UTM grids, plus an additional 30 minutes of latitude extending into UTM grid to provide an amount of overlap between the two systems.

Projection information

As the name indicates, the UPS system uses a stereographic projection. Specifically, the projection used in the system is a secant version based on an elliptical model of the Earth. The scale factor at each pole is adjusted to 0.994 so that the latitude of true scale is 81.11451786859362545° (about 81° 06' 52.3") North and South. The scale factor inside the regions at latitudes higher than this parallel will be too small, whereas the regions at latitudes below this line will have scale factors that are too large, reaching a figure of 1.0016 at 80° latitude.

The scale factor at the origin (the poles) is adjusted to minimize the overall distortion of scale within the mapped region. As with the Mercator projection, the region near the tangent (or secant) point on a Stereographic map remains very close to true scale for an angular distance of a few degrees. In the ellipsoidal model, a stereographic projection tangent to the pole will have a scale factor of less than 1.003 at 84° latitude and 1.008 at 80° latitude. The adjustment of the scale factor in the UPS projection reduces the average scale distortion over the entire zone.

The North Zone

The South Zone

External links


Snyder, John P. (1987). Map Projections - A Working Manual. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1395. United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.. 

Defense Mapping Agency (1990). Defense Mapping Agency Technical Manual 8358.1 Datums, Ellipsoids, Grids, and Grid Reference Systems. Defense Mapping Agency.