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Latitude

  • By: Peter H. Dana
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Latitude is the angular distance of a position from the equator to the nearest pole. However, latitude can acquire different meanings if inappropriately applied to other locations on Earth.

Often expressed in degrees from the equator (positive north and negative south), latitude can be expressed in a variety of units (radians, grads, semicircles, arc seconds, or mils) and formats (+/-or N/S, to indicate the hemisphere; degrees: minutes and fractional minutes; or degrees: minutes: seconds and fractional seconds). Since one minute of latitude is equal to one nautical mile latitude, tick marks are used on charts as a local graphic scale. Without reference to a specific geodetic datum, latitude values will point to different places on Earth.

If Earth were perfectly spherical, then the general definition for ...

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