I'm trying to calculate 50km circles around lat-long points and then extract gridded rain data (1km x 1km). However, for some reason my long-lat points are shown in the center of the U.S (picture related) and not where they are supposed to be. I have tried several projection transformations which more or less all deliver the same result.


Please find attached a working example which shows the problem on a subsample.


coords <-structure(list(id = 2L, Longitude = -71.4836857,Latitude = 43.0202135), row.names = 1L, class = "data.frame")

# Downloads precipitation tile from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Severs into tempdir()
download_daymet_tiles(location = c(43.59510,  -71.93360, 42.44533,  -71.0337),
                      start = 2015,
                      end = 2015,
                      param = "prcp")

## Read netCDF precipation data
ncpath <- paste0(tempdir(),"/prcp_2015_11935.nc")
nc = nc_open(ncpath)

raster = raster(ncpath, band=4)


dat_sf <- st_as_sf(coords, coords = c("Longitude", "Latitude"), crs = 4326) %>% 
      st_transform(3488) # transform to NAD83 California Albers, which uses metres as its unit.

# Buffer circle by 50km and transform to crs of raster object
dat_circles <- st_buffer(dat_sf, dist = 50000) %>% 
  st_transform("+proj=lcc +lon_0=-100 +lat_0=42.5 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +lat_1=25 +a=60 +rf=6378137 +lat_2=45")

# Create Map of Raster Data and Circles
mapTheme <- rasterTheme(region=brewer.pal(8,"Greens"))
plt <- levelplot(raster, margin=F, par.settings=mapTheme)
plt + layer(sp.polygons(as_Spatial(dat_circles), fill = "red"))

Your circles are okay, it seems the raster is in the wrong position.

Its bbox in its coordinates is:

> bbox(raster)
       min     max
s1 2101250 2318250
s2  315500  566500

and these are supposedly in this coordinate system:

> projection(raster)
[1] "+proj=lcc +lon_0=-100 +lat_0=42.5 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +lat_1=25 +a=60 +rf=6378137 +lat_2=45"

and if you find out where the extent of the raster is in lat-long you get:

> projectExtent(raster,"+init=epsg:4326")
class       : RasterLayer 
dimensions  : 251, 217, 54467  (nrow, ncol, ncell)
resolution  : 0.05864168, 3.686555e-09  (x, y)
extent      : 69.54706, 82.27231, -90, -89.99999  (xmin, xmax, ymin, ymax)
coord. ref. : +init=epsg:4326 +proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs +ellps=WGS84 +towgs84=0,0,0 

Just to confirm, lets see where the xmin, ymin point projects to:

> st_transform(

 POINT (70.91257 -89.99999)

Time to investigate the original data file.

Running gdalinfo shows it seems to have sensible corner coords near your circles:

Corner Coordinates:
Upper Left  ( 2101250.000,  566500.000) ( 71d46'39.16"W, 44d27'34.88"N)
Lower Left  ( 2101250.000,  315500.000) ( 72d50' 8.44"W, 42d13'10.67"N)
Upper Right ( 2318250.000,  566500.000) ( 69d 6'41.78"W, 43d44'56.38"N)
Lower Right ( 2318250.000,  315500.000) ( 70d15' 9.65"W, 41d32' 3.26"N)
Center      ( 2209750.000,  441000.000) ( 70d59'48.83"W, 42d59'58.50"N)

but it also has a two matrices (not vectors) of lat and long coordinates...

  SUBDATASET_1_DESC=[251x217] latitude (64-bit floating-point)
  SUBDATASET_2_DESC=[251x217] longitude (64-bit floating-point)

We can read these matrices in and generate the lat-long coordinates of each point of the grid.

> xy = data.frame(c(ncvar_get(nc,"lon")), c(ncvar_get(nc,"lat")))
> xy = st_as_sf(xy,coords=c(1:2))
> st_crs(xy)=4326
> plot(xy)
> axis(1)

Looks okay. If we transform to what the raster says its projection is then:

> plot(st_transform(xy, projection(raster)))

but if you look at that plot its not axis-aligned. This looks like a rotated grid.

Now it gets weird. Lets see where the first point in that lat-long grid goes to in raster projection:

> st_transform(xy[1,],projection(raster))
Simple feature collection with 1 feature and 0 fields
geometry type:  POINT
dimension:      XY
bbox:           xmin: 20.78145 ymin: 5.008069 xmax: 20.78145 ymax: 5.008069
epsg (SRID):    NA
proj4string:    +proj=lcc +lat_1=25 +lat_2=45 +lat_0=42.5 +lon_0=-100 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=60 +b=59.99999059286434 +units=m +no_defs
1 POINT (20.78145 5.008069)

That's a really small number. This is supposed to be metres. Maybe we're near the origin? But no, even a point far away from that location in lat-long has a small number. That's odd. Something must be amiss with the raster projection...

> projection(raster)
[1] "+proj=lcc +lon_0=-100 +lat_0=42.5 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +lat_1=25 +a=60 +rf=6378137 +lat_2=45"

+a=60. What's that?

 +a Semimajor radius of the ellipsoid axis

It thinks the semi-major radius of the earth is 60 METRES!??!

If you take that out and instead put in a spherical earth model with a sensible radius you get numbers that are at least reasonable, but probably not correct:

> p4 = "+proj=lcc +lon_0=-100 +lat_0=42.5 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +lat_1=25  +r=6378137 +lat_2=45"
> projection(raster) = p4
> st_transform(xy[1,],projection(raster))
Simple feature collection with 1 feature and 0 fields
geometry type:  POINT
dimension:      XY
bbox:           xmin: 2212760 ymin: 532499.9 xmax: 2212760 ymax: 532499.9
epsg (SRID):    NA
proj4string:    +proj=lcc +lat_1=25 +lat_2=45 +lat_0=42.5 +lon_0=-100 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +ellps=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs
1 POINT (2212760 532499.9)

...and I wouldn't trust them, especially since the lat-long and projected grids looked rotated.


  • raster is not dealing with the CRS correctly
  • CRS in NetCDF files are often weird
  • NetCDF files will sometimes supply you with a lat and long matrix pair
  • If it is a rotated coordinate system then you need to use the matrix pair
  • The stars package will work with rotated coordinate system rasters


  • I do not know where the +a parameter has come from and I can't find it in the gdalinfo metadata output. I suspect its confused it with one of the standard parallel values?

It may be possible to construct a correct proj4 string from the metadata by hand.

Its also output correctly in the other gdalinfo metadata output:


It may even be related to the warning I get when reading the raster:

> raster = raster(ncpath, band=4)
Warning message:
In cbind(m[i, ], vals) :
  number of rows of result is not a multiple of vector length (arg 2)


Read the data in using ncdf4 and create a curvilinear stars object from the lat-long matrix pair. Transform to another CRS from there.


On my work machine, as opposed the my laptop where I did everything above, it seems to do the right thing:

> r = raster(ncpath, band=4)
> projection(r)
[1] "+proj=lcc +lon_0=-100 +lat_0=42.5 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=6378137 +rf=298.257223563 +lat_1=25 +lat_2=60"

that has the correct earth radius. When projected to lat-long, it seems to be in the right place approximately:

> plot(r)
> projectExtent(r,"+init=epsg:4326")
class       : RasterLayer 
dimensions  : 251, 217, 54467  (nrow, ncol, ncell)
resolution  : 0.01716163, 0.01164861  (x, y)
extent      : -72.83568, -69.1116, 41.53589, 44.45969  (xmin, xmax, ymin, ymax)
coord. ref. : +init=epsg:4326 +proj=longlat +datum=WGS84 +no_defs +ellps=WGS84 +towgs84=0,0,0 

This is a slightly old R and these versions of the relevant packages:

R version 3.4.4 (2018-03-15)

sf and rgdal report thus:

> library(sf)
Linking to GEOS 3.6.2, GDAL 2.2.3, PROJ 4.9.3

> library(rgdal)
rgdal: version: 1.3-3, (SVN revision 759)
 Geospatial Data Abstraction Library extensions to R successfully loaded
 Loaded GDAL runtime: GDAL 2.2.3, released 2017/11/20
 Path to GDAL shared files: /usr/share/gdal/2.2
 GDAL binary built with GEOS: TRUE 
 Loaded PROJ.4 runtime: Rel. 4.9.3, 15 August 2016, [PJ_VERSION: 493]
 Path to PROJ.4 shared files: (autodetected)
 Linking to sp version: 1.3-1 

I can compare with my laptop later today.

  • This PROJ4 from your update does the trick: "+proj=lcc +lon_0=-100 +lat_0=42.5 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=6378137 +rf=298.257223563 +lat_1=25 +lat_2=60". – cgx May 28 '19 at 14:04

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