How to Convert GPS Points to UTM

Written by jonah quant
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How to Convert GPS Points to UTM
UTM and latitude/longitude (GPS) are equivalent coordinate systems. (world map image by Andrew Brown from Fotolia.com)

The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system is a method for specifying locations on the earth's surface. It serves the same purpose as the more common method of specifying latitude and longitude in degrees, minutes and seconds. Although UTM has better accuracy within one of its zones, the real choice between the two systems is dictated in practice by the coordinate system used in available maps and GPS equipment. Some GPS navigation devices--especially older ones--do not support UTM. You can convert latitude/longitude readings to UTM by using free web services.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Navigate to the RCN Utilities and Tools webpage (see Resources).

  2. 2

    Enter the latitude and longitude you want converted into the empty fields. If latitude and longitude are specified in the degree/minute/second format (e.g., 56o 17' 49"), enter those values in the "Degree, Minute, Second" section of the webpage. If latitude and longitude are specified in the decimal degree format (e.g., 49.748387 degrees), enter those values in the "Degree, Minute, Second" section of the webpage.

    If a particular field (e.g., seconds) has value zero, enter a "0" for it. This website requires that all values be specified.

  3. 3

    Make sure the "NAD83/WGS84" map datum is selected. If you know that your source of GPS data relied on a different map datum, select it--the website also accepts Clarke 1866, Everest 1930 and several others. However, NAD83/WGS84 is adequate unless you need sub-millimetre accuracy for your conversion.

  4. 4

    Click on "Convert DMS" if you specified the GPS position in the degree/minute/second format, or on "Convert DD" if you specified the GPS position in the decimal degree format. The equivalent values in all four formats, including UTM, will be displayed at the bottom of the same webpage. The result you need is the UTM, consisting of a Zone, an Easting and a Northing.

Tips and warnings

  • Multiple websites perform this conversion. Another example is the "lat/lon, UTM or MTM to Google maps (and others) interface" webpage (see Resources).

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