My problem:

I'm currently trying to use gdal to write GeoTIFF files. I'm however having problems with using a proj4 string to describe the projection. ("+proj=lcc +k_0=0.001 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +no_defs"). Essentially the scaling factor "+k_0" is ignored by gdal. I know that instead of +k_0, I can use dataset->SetGeoTransform(adfGeoTransform) (in C++) and set this value manually. However I am surprised that doing this via the proj4 string does not seem to be possible.

If you try the following in python:


from gdal import osr
p = osr.SpatialReference()
p.ImportFromProj4("+proj=lcc +k_0=0.001 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +no_defs")
print p.ExportToProj4()

the output simply drops the +k_0 parameter:

+proj=lcc +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +ellps=bessel +units=m +no_defs

This results in completely different projected coordinates however and makes it difficult to rely onto.

2 Answers 2


The value for +k_0 should be around 1.0. See the table at Snyder, Map projections, page 110. You may find the source code for lcc at https://trac.osgeo.org/proj/browser/trunk/proj/src/PJ_lcc.c

If you intend to use units different from meters, use +units or +to_meter instead.

Testing with cs2cs on 1000 1000:

echo k=1 m >out.txt
cs2cs +proj=lcc +k_0=1 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +no_defs +to +init=epsg:4326 -f "%%.9f" lcc-in.txt >>out.txt
echo k=0.001 m >>out.txt
cs2cs +proj=lcc +k_0=0.001 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +no_defs +to +init=epsg:4326 -f "%%.9f" lcc-in.txt >>out.txt
echo k=1 mm >>out.txt
cs2cs +proj=lcc +k_0=1 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +units=mm +no_defs +to +init=epsg:4326 -f "%%.9f" lcc-in.txt >>out.txt
echo k=1 to-meter >>out.txt
cs2cs +proj=lcc +k_0=1 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +to_meter=0.001 +no_defs +to +init=epsg:4326 -f "%%.9f" lcc-in.txt >>out.txt
echo k=0.9 m >>out.txt
cs2cs +proj=lcc +k_0=0.9 +lat_1=46 +lat_2=49 +lat_0=47.5 +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +no_defs +to +init=epsg:4326 -f "%%.9f" lcc-in.txt >>out.txt


k=1 m 
13.341301026    47.505398796 0.000000000
k=0.001 m 
22.172450742    52.582612826 0.000000000
k=1 mm 
13.328035167    47.496409491 0.000000000
k=1 to-meter 
13.328035167    47.496409491 0.000000000
k=0.9 m 
13.342186463    47.505998628 0.000000000

The EPSG Guidance 7-2 lists a 2SP Michigan variant of lcc, using a scale factor and 2 parallels. The factor seems to scale the ellipsoid. In the proj definitions for EPSG 4268 and 26811 to 26813, this is been done by scaling a and b (ignoring the NAD27 datum shift to WGS84). Using +k_0=1.0000382 on the original ellipsoid returns the same values, as given in the Guidance.

See http://lists.maptools.org/pipermail/proj/2015-April/007108.html for the discussion on that.

  • Ok. It seems the answer to my question is really: "Not every string that works in proj.4 is valid in gdal." The +to_meter seems to be what I was actually looking for when trying out +k
    – knedlsepp
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:18
  • Why do you think that it works in proj.4? I assume wrong parameters are dropped silently.
    – AndreJ
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:19
  • Because if I transform some coordinates (with the proj.4 api) using the string with "+k=0.001", I get the same coordinates as without, only scaled by a factor of 1e3. So adding +k=0.001 changes the result, which is what I was expecting to happen also in gdal, but there both with and without yield the same coordinates.
    – knedlsepp
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:23
  • If I use Proj.4 cs2cs to convert from your lcc to EPSG:4326, k=0.001 and +to_meter=0.001 deliver different coordinates. The first one is totally off. See my extended answer.
    – AndreJ
    Sep 19, 2016 at 12:19
  • I was actually comparing the following two definitions: with +k: "+proj=lcc +lat_1=46N +lat_2=49N +lat_0=47.5N +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400 +y_0=400 +k=0.001 +no_defs" and with +to_meters "+proj=lcc +lat_1=46N +lat_2=49N +lat_0=47.5N +lon_0=13.333333 +ellps=bessel +x_0=400000 +y_0=400000 +to_meters=1000 +no_defs". Using proj4 they are equivalent. Using gdal they are not (because +k is not supported.) I agree with you that units is the better way to solve this problem.
    – knedlsepp
    Sep 19, 2016 at 13:01

By reading the documentation https://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/wiki/NetCDF_ProjectionTestingStatus and looking at the note about lcc it seems that +k_0 is not supported and defaults to 1 always.

Lambert conformal 1SP / 2SP

The 1SP variant corresponds to EPSG code 9801 - Lambert Conic Conformal (1SP), with CF latitude_of_projection_origin=standard_parallel and WKT scale_factor=1. A scale factor less than 1 means that there are 2 standard parallels (see www.remotesensing.org/geotiff/proj_list/lambert_conic_conformal_1sp.html), but it cannot be translated to the CF 1SP variant, therefore the 2SP variant should be used instead. The 2SP variant corresponds to EPSG code 9802 - Lambert Conic Conformal (2SP).

BTW. Links to remotesensing.org do not work, someone else has taken the domain name. Use web.archive.org instead.



  • 1
    So this means that not every valid proj.4 string can be used as a gdal-OGRSpatialReference?
    – knedlsepp
    Sep 19, 2016 at 8:49
  • Ok. I was expecting +k to work, because if you use it in proj.4 alone, it does correctly scale using the given value. However it seems that even though proj.4 does not a have a problem combining LCC-2SP and +k, gdal does.
    – knedlsepp
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:15
  • Probably you understand it better, but by reading the links above I concluded that 2SP does not support +k_0 at all, and if +k_0 is used with 1SP it means effectively a conversion into 2SP with two properly set standard parallels.
    – user30184
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:36
  • Yes, the links describe gdal's behaviour when using proj4 strings. You are right that what I was trying to do is simply not supported by gdal. What threw me off however is, that if you use the proj.4 API directly, the parameter +k is supported.
    – knedlsepp
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:48
  • But even if it is supported, is is the correct way for converting millimeters to meters if that was your real need?
    – user30184
    Sep 19, 2016 at 11:09

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