I am new in Geographic area and would like to convert latitude and longitude coordinates into ECEF x,y coordinates so that I could do some linear calculation of line or circle equation. I was able to get the elevation of the coordinate using Google Maps Elevation API and it says that the value is local mean sea level (LMSL). Can I use this value as altitude for ECEF? Or should I also use the geoid height value from EGM2008 or combine both LMSL+geoid height as altitude?

Case in point:

Latitude = 52.394033° N = 52° 23' 38.52" N 
Longitude = 13.133462° E = 13° 8' 0.46" E 
GPS ellipsoidal height (Google elevation) = 42.27206802368164 (meters) 
Geoid height (EGM96) = 40.229 (meters) 

Which one I should use as altitude for ECEF?

1 Answer 1


To convert from orthometric (vertical datum-based) heights to ellipsoidal heights, you need to add the geoid height to your Google Map elevations. I am not exactly sure how Google uses LMSL, it might simply be based on a local or national vertical datum (maybe like Normalhöhennull in Germany), but seeing that your data comes from Google Maps, using the EGM2008 as your geoid would be reasonable, the deviations between local mean sea levels and the global geoid-based sea level are usually within 1-2 meters, and Google Maps elevations are not perfect anyway.

Geoid heights vs Ellipsoidal heights

  • So in this case I should just use EGM2008 as the altitude? May 29, 2018 at 9:37
  • You need to add both Google Map and geoid heights. So in your example, the ellipsoidal height would be 42.272 + 40.229 = 82.501. Also keep in mind that the Google Map elevation is not an ellipsoidal height, it is an orthometric height (above sea level or local vertical datum)
    – FSimardGIS
    May 29, 2018 at 14:05

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