For a particular polygon of mine in a "EPSG:3857 - WGS 84 / Pseudo-Mercator" layer, the derived measurements QGIS reports are:

Ellipsoidal perimeter: 1015 m
Cartesian perimeter: 1218 m
Ellipsoidal area: 49,928 m2
Cartesian area: 71,782 m2

How can these two methods of measuring perimeter and area differ so much?

When I click on the polygon with the Identify Features tool, here's what it shows in the Identify Results panel:

I'm using EPSG:4326 for the project CRS. I don't know why it says EPSG:7030 in the screenshot.

  • 5
    The units for EPSG:4326 are degrees, so in this case I personally don't even know what the cartesian values mean, or how they can be given in m². It might help to know approximately where in the world (by latitude) you're considering this discrepancy. Dec 20, 2023 at 7:11
  • @alphabetasoup See the image I added.
    – Geremia
    Dec 20, 2023 at 17:10
  • @Babel I'm using the Identify Features tool and looking at what it says in the Identify Results panel. See the image I added.
    – Geremia
    Dec 20, 2023 at 17:11
  • @Babel My current CRS in the bottom right corner is EPSG:4326 - WGS 84. I don't know why it says EPSG:7030 in the Identify Results panel. My QGIS version is 3.34.0-Prizren.
    – Geremia
    Dec 20, 2023 at 17:18
  • @Babel The layer properties info tab says "EPSG:3857 - WGS 84 / Pseudo-Mercator". Maybe it's not transforming the coordinates on-the-fly very well?
    – Geremia
    Dec 20, 2023 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


Short answer

Reproject to a CRS that is appropriate for measurements like local UTM zone. A good indicator that you use a CRS that is appropriate for measurements is if values for cartesian and ellipsoidal measurements are very similar. If this is not the case, then ellipsoidal measurement is closer to the reality.

How to reproject and what to avoid

Don't change project CRS. This only changes how the map is presented on the map canvas. You should reproject (not change!) the layer CRS: either use Menu Processing > Toolbox > Reproject layer or export/save the layer with a new CRS definition.

By the way: EPSG:3070 stands not for a CRS, but for the WGS 84 ellipsoid - the one used for ellipsoidal measurements. Depending on which CRS you use, other ellipsoids might be used. WGS 84 / EPSG:3070 is used for CRS EPSG:4326 as well as EPSG:3857 (and others), so ellipsoidal measurements based on these CRS should return the same values.


Your layer is in EPSG:3857 (Web Mercator) and like this, this CRS is used for cartesian measurements. However, cartesian area returns completely wrong results if you don't use a CRS approriate for measurements, like e.g. a national grid or local UTM zone. The CRS you use for your layer, EPSG:3857, is based on a Mercator projection. Mercator projections are known to heavily distort size, so cartesian measurements measures the distorted area, not the real area.

Ellipsoidal measurements are closer to the reality as they always consider Earth's curved surface, based on the ellipsoid defined in the CRS.

Don't confuse matters: QGIS reprojects "on the fly" to locate layers in different CRS correctly on the map canvas. This is for visualization. For geoprocessing, measurements etc. however, you should not rely on this as the algorithms calculate using the values they get from the layer.


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