I was wondering if the following approach a) would be considered valid and b) someone already did this in python.

I have a python script where users can choose an area of analysis (anywhere on the world). The tool will select data based on this rectangle (data in WGS1984 lat/lon) and process it. The result is a shapefile (from Shapely) that can be mapped in QGIS or Arcgis (etc.). My current problem is: the users of my script don't have any background in GIS. Therefore, the tool should do as much automatically as is possible. As a further automation step, I would like to output the resulting Shapefile in a UTM-Projected Coordinate System suitable for the chosen area.

  • users will always choose a pretty small area (local scale), therefore, it is very unlikely that an area stretches significantly across two UTM-Zones
  • Minimal Distance/Area distortions are important, but only to some degree - the users will perform some calculations that require consistent distances (e.g. GetisOrd Statistic) UTM-Grid UTM-Grid on Wikimedia I think I should be able to select the best UTM-Zone by intersecting with the UTM-Grid:

Is there any python package that will detect the best UTM-Zone given an lat/lng point (and perhaps an area extent)? Are there any concerns regarding my approach?


There's the utm package, a bidirectional UTM-WGS84 converter for python. It's able to convert a (latitude, longitude) tuple into an UTM coordinate:

import utm
utm.from_latlon(51.2, 7.5)
>>> (395201.3103811303, 5673135.241182375, 32, 'U')
  • Many thanks Antonio! So I can get the UTM Grid Coordinate "32U" based on a lat/lng pair. How would I select the matching projected Coordinate System (e.g. by getting the SRID))? For example using: project = partial(pyproj.transform, pyproj.Proj(init='epsg:4326'), pyproj.Proj(init='epsg:26913')) # destination coordinate system – Alex Jan 29 '18 at 9:59
  • I think I need the SRID to assign a projection system to my shapefile (example: Fiona): with fiona.open(shapeout, 'w', crs=from_epsg(3996), driver='ESRI Shapefile', schema=myschema) as output: [...] – Alex Jan 29 '18 at 10:05
  • Found the answer: Here's a (very similar) question and an answer that provides code for extracting the matching EPSG Code (SRID) based on UTM-Coordinates from Lat/Lng – Alex Jan 29 '18 at 10:18

Alright, the answer from Antonio above is definitely right and pointed me in the correct direction. Here is the complete code:

#convert_wgs_to_utm function, see https://stackoverflow.com/questions/40132542/get-a-cartesian-projection-accurate-around-a-lat-lng-pair
def convert_wgs_to_utm(lon, lat):
    utm_band = str((math.floor((lon + 180) / 6 ) % 60) + 1)
    if len(utm_band) == 1:
        utm_band = '0'+utm_band
    if lat >= 0:
        epsg_code = '326' + utm_band
        epsg_code = '327' + utm_band
return epsg_code
#Get Bounds of user selected area
bound_points_shapely = geometry.MultiPoint([(limLngMin, limLatMin), (limLngMax, limLatMax)])
get lat/lng from center
input_lon_center = bound_points_shapely.centroid.coords[0][0] #True centroid (coords may be multipoint)
input_lat_center = bound_points_shapely.centroid.coords[0][1]
#Get best UTM Zone SRID/EPSG Code for center coordinate pair
utm_code = convert_wgs_to_utm(input_lon_center, input_lat_center)
#define project_from_to with iteration
#see https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/127427/transforming-shapely-polygon-and-multipolygon-objects
project = lambda x, y: pyproj.transform(pyproj.Proj(init='epsg:4326'), pyproj.Proj(init='epsg:{0}'.format(utm_code)), x, y)
#define schema
schema = {
    'geometry': 'Polygon',
with fiona.open('projectedShapefile.shp', mode='w', encoding='utf-8', driver='ESRI Shapefile', schema=schema,crs=from_epsg(utm_code)) as c:
    #for each shapely geometry:
    geom_proj = transform(project, geom)
    'geometry': geometry.mapping(geom_proj)})

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