I am trying to do some work that involves spatiotemporal latent surface modeling, but an issue that I am worried about is that calculating distance between two coordinates is quite a bit more complicated than just applying the Pythagorean theorem in the latitude and longitude coordinates.

I was wondering if there are any projections (especially for the US) where coordinates can be treated as position on a 2d surface in a way that preserves distances between coordinates? Or if this can't be done exactly, are there projections that almost satisfy this criteria?

I think the simplest way to put this is that I'd like to put my data in a coordinate projection system where 1 unit of shift in the X direction is comparable to 1 unit of shift in the Y direction in terms of distance. This is because I'd like to be able to make isotropic assumptions about smoothing across geography.

I'm using R and the sf package with QGIS and GDAL on the backend in case any answers are software specific.

  • You need to evaluate the distances calculated with projected units against geodesic functions, and decide if what you gain by simplicity is worth the accuracy loss. There are a number of CONUS conic projections which may suffice.
    – Vince
    Dec 3, 2022 at 0:21
  • Military Reference Grid System?
    – John
    Dec 3, 2022 at 13:40


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