I have seen the answer to Elevation info for multiple lat long coordinates and I would like to be able to do this with a python script instead. I cannot use Googles API because I have 8000 points. I have them as part of a .csv file which I import into pandas as a dataframe.

something like:

elevation_list = []

def elevation_function(df):
    for lat,long in zip(df.lat,df.lon):
          elevation_i = some_call_to_file(lat,long)

My coordinates span the western half of the US so Im not sure the function could be so simple. I have downloaded all SRTM90M resolution tiffs from this amazing person

  • gis.stackexchange.com/a/228968/2856
    – user2856
    Oct 11, 2019 at 4:53
  • It isn't quite as simple as this question. I have multiple lat,longs that span multiple tiffs. So first I would need to download all the files. Second I would need to right a function that parses the meta data and chooses that right file to look for each coordinate. I am sure some could make it work but I was not up to the task. This online method that @Ben Gosak produced is working like a charm.
    – Bstampe
    Oct 11, 2019 at 5:09
  • You can create a virtual mosiac withgdalbuildvrt
    – user2856
    Oct 11, 2019 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


Don't know if this is the simplest way, but it saves gathering elevation data. The USGS-National Map has a REST service that you can use to query elevation for lat/lon coords.

Service url: https://apps.nationalmap.gov/epqs/ (new) (old, deprecated as of March 1, 2023: https://nationalmap.gov/epqs/)

You can use pythons requests library and format your query string according to the service parameters. You need your input coordinates in NAD83 (lat/lon).

import requests
import urllib
import pandas as pd

# USGS Elevation Point Query Service
#url = r'https://nationalmap.gov/epqs/pqs.php?'
#new 2023:
url = r'https://epqs.nationalmap.gov/v1/json?'

# coordinates with known elevation 
lat = [48.633, 48.733, 45.1947, 45.1962]
lon = [-93.9667, -94.6167, -93.3257, -93.2755]
# create data frame
df = pd.DataFrame({
    'lat': lat,
    'lon': lon

def elevation_function(df, lat_column, lon_column):
    """Query service using lat, lon. add the elevation values as a new column."""
    elevations = []
    for lat, lon in zip(df[lat_column], df[lon_column]):
        # define rest query params
        params = {
            'output': 'json',
            'x': lon,
            'y': lat,
            'units': 'Meters'
        # format query string and return query value
        result = requests.get((url + urllib.parse.urlencode(params)))
        #new 2023:

    df['elev_meters'] = elevations

elevation_function(df, 'lat', 'lon')
  • 1
    @Bstampe Yes, projecting to web mercator in advance will work. No limit to the number of requests, the process sends a unique request to the service for each coordinate pair. Seemed to be taking about 1-2 seconds per coordinate, so you may want to add a print statement so you know it's running. 5000 refers to spacing between the coordinate values.
    – bebego
    Oct 10, 2019 at 18:51
  • No worries, I would slice off the first 100 points and test with this process to get a better time estimate. I reran with %timit and got: ~4 sec for 6 records, so you could expect about 1.5 hrs for 8k records.
    – bebego
    Oct 10, 2019 at 19:05
  • Check out the pyproj library for a python solution.
    – bebego
    Oct 10, 2019 at 20:24
  • I have converted from lat lon to utm. how does your function know what zone of utm you are in?
    – Bstampe
    Oct 10, 2019 at 20:29
  • I see I didn't understand the difference between web mercator and utm. This post has a nice function for converting lat lon to web mercator stackoverflow.com/questions/56647700/…
    – Bstampe
    Oct 10, 2019 at 20:40

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