In python I have a shapely polygon (which defines the coastline of the UK), given a point within the UK I would like to find the closest point on the polygon (coastline) to that point. I have been trying to modify the code posted here, but the resulting nearest point I get is incorrect. What should I change?

from shapely.geometry import Point
import geopandas as gpd
from cartopy.io import shapereader as shp_r
from shapely.ops import nearest_points
import pandas as pd
import geoplot as gplt
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Random point in the U.K (close to the south coast, Worthing)
long, lat = 50.907262, -0.420036
p0 = Point(long, lat) 

#10m resolution country data
resolution = '10m'
category = 'cultural'
name = 'admin_0_countries'
shpfilename = shp_r.natural_earth(resolution, category, name)
world_pd = gpd.read_file(shpfilename)

# Filter out United Kingdom
country_name = 'United Kingdom'
country_pd = world_pd[world_pd['ADMIN'] == country_name]

# Extract mainland as single Polygon
uk_main_landmass = country_pd['geometry'].iloc[0].geoms[1]
print (type(uk_main_landmass)) #Out: shapely.geometry.polygon.Polygon

#Plot polygon (UK)
m = gpd.GeoSeries(uk_main_landmass.boundary)
# m.plot()

#Calculate the nearest point on the polygon to the input point (p0)
p1, p0 = nearest_points(uk_main_landmass.boundary, p0)
print (list(p1.coords)) #Result is near Dover rather than on South coast?

nearest_lat, nearest_long   = (p1.coords)[0] #Long and lat are swapped? 

#Create geopandas dataframes for random starting point
df_start = pd.DataFrame(
    {'Latitude': [long],
     'Longitude': [lat]})
start = gpd.GeoDataFrame(
    df_start, geometry=gpd.points_from_xy(df_start.Longitude, df_start.Latitude))

#Create geopandas dataframes for nearest point on polygon (coastline)
df_nearest = pd.DataFrame(
    {'Latitude': [nearest_long],
     'Longitude': [nearest_lat]})
nearest = gpd.GeoDataFrame(
    df_nearest, geometry=gpd.points_from_xy(df_nearest.Longitude, df_nearest.Latitude))

#Shows input point (red) and "closest point" (blue) on coastline
ax = gplt.polyplot(country_pd, figsize=(12, 12))
start.plot(ax = ax, color = 'red')
nearest.plot(ax = ax, color = 'blue')

1 Answer 1


Guess what? ;)

>>> p1, p0 = nearest_points(uk_main_landmass.boundary, p0)
>>> p0.coords.xy
(array('d', [50.907262]), array('d', [-0.420036]))
>>> p1.coords.xy
(array('d', [1.3844507170000497]), array('d', [51.151678778000075]))

Yes, you just inverted your (lat, lon) coordinates when defining p0!

This will definitely work:

lat, long = 50.907262, -0.420036 # instead of long, lat = 50.907262, -0.420036
p0 = Point(long, lat) 

Now they seem much closer, don't they?

>>> p1, p0 = nearest_points(uk_main_landmass.boundary, p0)
>>> p0.coords.xy
(array('d', [-0.420036]), array('d', [50.907262]))
>>> p1.coords.xy
(array('d', [-0.420036]), array('d', [50.802069403000075]))

Then fix your nearest point coords:

# No, they are no more swapped after the fix:
# it was: nearest_lat, nearest_long = (p1.coords)[0] 
nearest_long, nearest_lat = (p1.coords)[0] 

You also need to fix both your df_start and df_nearest GeoDataFrame as:

df_start = pd.DataFrame(
    {'Latitude': [lat], # it was long
     'Longitude': [long]}) # it was lat
df_nearest = pd.DataFrame(
    {'Latitude': [nearest_lat], # it was nearest_long
     'Longitude': [nearest_long]}) # it was nearest_lat

Resulting in:


Notice that even the shape of the country improved.


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