What can go wrong and what kind of error can build up if I use geodetic coordinates as if they were cartesian and place my objects into my world with no conversion formulas?

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    Display distortion will be the main issue (this answer displays that nicely), but you'd also have issues if you try measuring distances that way. Dec 15, 2015 at 15:46
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    You've also flipped the dimensions -- lon and lat are X and Y, but lat and lon are Y and X.
    – Vince
    Dec 15, 2015 at 16:11
  • @Vince that depends on how SteakOverflow labels the axes. There are places that label "up" as X and "right" as Y.
    – mkennedy
    Dec 15, 2015 at 17:44
  • What could possibly go wrong? Jan 5, 2016 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


Everything really. Distances will become meaningless. Areas will become meaningless. Hence all outputs such as slope will become problematic. As you move in latitude then your "grids" will appear to be the same size but actually one will become a small fraction of the other in true size. I would say distance, area, and angle are the primary errors that will magnify if you do this.

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  • 1
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    – mr.adam
    Dec 15, 2015 at 15:58
  • 1
    I'll send one from my collection. Dec 15, 2015 at 16:01
  • LOL that's genius. I want a shirt too now! Flat possibly. Dec 15, 2015 at 16:05

Latitude and longitude are not linear measures, and a planar calculation of distance using them will yield nonsense results. Although lines of latitude, or parallels, are evenly spaced, and could be converted to a linear distance, the distance between lines of longitude, or meridians, varies with latitude. If we apply the formula for Euclidean distance between two points expressed in latitudes and longitudes, we end up with a values that makes very little sense. The Euclidean distance only works for planar coordinates

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