I am student of Statistics, this is my first time using GIS., I am sorry for the stupidity of the question but I browsed online and could not find a satisfactory answer.

I have some spatial data in the format (lat, long, y). I have noticed that the sea proximity influences the statistics y, Is it possible (and if it is how can you do it) to interpolate the coast and then calculate a minimum distance between the polyline interpolating it and the measurement point?

I can do the interpolation on R if it is complicated on GIS, but how can I retrieve the data of the "vertices" of the shore? I understand I have to use polygons, but how does that work do I have to do it manually or is there an automatic way?

Please do not say to read the guides, I have read quite enough and I am clearly missing something.

I have downloaded GRASS GIS and have an ArcGIS online account. My data about the Finland coast come from here. country: Finland, subject: Administrative Areas.



  • Not a GRASS user myself but I would try this specifically: v.distance from=points to=coast upload=dist column=dist – eseglem Aug 3 '13 at 13:42
  • I think GRASS will be a better bet than ArcGIS Online (in ArcGIS for Desktop it would have been easy) so I have tagged your question accordingly. – PolyGeo Aug 4 '13 at 1:09
  • I installed the ArcGIS Desktop Free Trial, so go along with the solution. Please enter in details. Thank you again. – Irene Aug 4 '13 at 12:07
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    @eseglem solution of Near would be my first choice (+1) using ArcGIS for Desktop but if you really need to access the coordinates of vertices then ArcPy (part of ArcGIS for Desktop) offers the means to do this. – PolyGeo Aug 5 '13 at 1:14

For ArcGIS since you said you installed the trial:

The Near tool does exactly what you are looking for. Your points should go in 'Input Features' and your coastline will go in 'Near Features' the tool will add NEAR_DIST field to your points.

Very important note: "The distances calculated by this tool are in the unit of the coordinate system of the input features. If your input is in a geographic coordinate system and you want output distances to be measured in a linear unit (as opposed to decimal degrees), you must first project your input to a projected coordinate system using the Project tool. For best results, use an equidistant projection or a projection intended for your study area (UTM, for example)."

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If you are doing shoreline analysis have a look at DSAS?


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