I read a shapefile containing geometries that I want to plot using Cartopy. My challenge is finding the correct CRS projection to use for this. The .prj file contains this information:


When I plot the shapefile in Google Earth it looks correct, Google Earth with correct projection

but when I plot using Cartopy it is off Cartopy with wrong projection

I obviously use the incorrect projection (crs.AlbersEqualArea assumed from PROJECTION["Albers"]), but I am not sure how to identify the correct one from the .prj file.

How can I extract the necessary information and plot the shapefile using Cartopy without having to guess the projection? I would welcome any suggestions.

The shapefile is found here if anyone would take a look and the code for making the map is here:

import geopandas as gdp

def create_colors(N):
   color = iter(cm.tab20b(np.linspace(0,1,N)))
   return [next(color) for c in range(N)]

ax.coastlines(resolution="10m", linewidth=0.6, color="black", alpha=0.8, zorder=4)
ax.add_feature(cpf.BORDERS, linestyle=':',alpha=0.4)
ax.add_feature(cpf.LAND, color="orange")
extent = [-182, -100, 40, 65]

projection = ccrs.AlbersEqualArea(central_longitude=-155,
                        standard_parallels=(0, 80))

ax.set_extent(extent, crs=ccrs.PlateCarree())

shdf = gpd.read_file(lme_file)

LMES = ["630","640","650","620","610"]
counter = 0
for LME_NUMBER in shdf['NMFS_AREA']:

    shdf_sel = shdf[shdf['NMFS_AREA']==LME_NUMBER]


I managed to get the projection correct by manually adding the optional parameters to Albers Equal Area projection in Cartopy.

projection = ccrs.AlbersEqualArea(central_longitude=-154, central_latitude=50, false_easting=0, false_northing=0)

This gives a nice result like this: enter image description here

I still would like to know if there are any way I could have extracted this information automatically from the shapefile without having to manually look into the .prj file, but regardless this works.

1 Answer 1


This turned out to be pretty straightforward when usin GeoPandas. I first converted the shapefile to a standard projection (EPSG:4326):

import geopandas as gpd

shdf = gpd.read_file("shapefile")
shdf = shdf.to_crs("EPSG:4326")

Next, I used the PlateCarreeas my projection in Cartopy. I could then add my shapefile geometries using:

ax = plt.figure(figsize=(16,10)).gca(projection=ccrs.PlateCarree())
ax.coastlines(resolution=res, linewidth=0.6, color="black", alpha=0.8, zorder=4)
ax.add_feature(cpf.BORDERS, linestyle=':', alpha=0.4, zorder=2)
ax.add_feature(cpf.LAND, color="lightgrey", zorder=2)
projection = ccrs.PlateCarree(central_longitude=0) 

Reading the documentation of GeoPandas was very useful.

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