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I have seen in ArcGIS many different State Plane systems for Minnesota (location coordinates in WGS84: 44,07 lat/-94,61 long) within the Projected Coordinate system group:

  • NAD 1983 (CORS 96) (Meters)
  • NAD 1983 (CORS 96) (US Feet)
  • NAD 1983 (CORS 96) (Intl Feet)
  • NAD 1983 (Meters)
  • NAD 1983 (US Feet)
  • NAD 1983 (Intl Feet)
  • NAD 1983 HARN (Meters)
  • NAD 1983 HARN (US Feet)
  • NAD 1983 NSRS2007 (Meters)
  • NAD 1983 NSRS2007 (US Feet)

Which is the best choice for low area distortion?

Is that choice better than the UTM 15 N projection, for that purpose?

  • The difference between the Meters, US Feet, and International Feet is what units the coordinate system is in; choosing a particular one is more a matter of project requirements than accuracy and they're essentially interchangeable. The different datums can affect the accuracy of results by a few feet; the most recent update (and presumably most accurate) is the NSRS2007. – Erica Sep 22 '14 at 16:50
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These are all for the State Plane zones which are conformal (maintain shape, not area) like UTM. They should be slightly better because they're defined for a small area than a UTM zone is.

Even better, but still conformal, would be the county-level Minnesota coordinate reference systems.

Instead using an equal area projection like Albers and customizing it for your area of interest would be a better solution.

  • Thanks. I see in ArcGIS that there are Albers projections for US within "Projected Coordinate Systems/Continental/North America", and "Projected Coordinate Systems/State Systems", but I don't see which can be used for Minnesota. Any help will be welcome. – Charly Sep 22 '14 at 17:47
  • Could you confirm that ArcGIS doesn't allow area measurement when working with a Geographic Coordinate System? I think I have read something about a recent ArcGIS improved functionality in that sense. I work with ArcGIS 10.1. – Charly Sep 22 '14 at 17:52
  • That's true. We blocked it as making no sense, but have now added calculating area based on geodesics back in again...post 10.2? I think. – mkennedy Sep 22 '14 at 19:55
  • Do you have any answer to the previous question: which Albers CRS can be used for Minnesota from "Projected Coordinate Systems/Continental/North America" or "Projected Coordinate Systems/State Systems" groups in ArcGIS? – Charly Sep 22 '14 at 21:08
  • I don't recall anything Minnesota-specific. As I mentioned in the answer, you should customize one for your area of interest. – mkennedy Sep 22 '14 at 22:00

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