What is Blue Marble GeoTalks 2020?

In spring of 2019, Blue Marble Geographics® launched its first online conference, GeoTalks, to replace its user conferences, which had been held at locations around the globe. Not only did the virtual format of the day-long GeoTalks expand accessibility to a wider audience, it also opened the door for more geospatial professionals from all over the world to participate and share their expertise as speakers. In its inaugural event in 2019, GeoTalks had more than 800 registrations. Below is a breakdown and sneak peek of what GeoTalks will include in 2020.

Presentations by professionals from a variety of geospatial industries and backgrounds

At the 2020 GeoTalks, speakers from all over the world and from a wide range of backgrounds will be participating. Here is a peek at who will be presenting this year:

Ben Follett, a Principal Engineering Geologist with WSP, Australia

Ben Follett

Ben Follett  will present on a workflow using Global Mapper® to assess the effects of pipeline construction. This GeoTalks presentation will cover attribute calculation, various digitizing tools, contouring, and illustrating slopes as low as fractions of a degree in order to identify structures that may be affected by the dewatering process in construction.

Walter Payne, a Space Intelligence Analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency USSTRATCOM

Walter Payne

Walter Payne will give a presentation on “An Unexpected Discovery”, in which he will share the role he played in a research project that focused on the Pena de Juaica, a mountain 3,209 meters high, located in the Colombian town of Tobio.

The goals of this research project were to identify carved figures and anthropomorphic forms, and to locate caves for exploration. During this expedition, he used Global Mapper and the Lidar Module’s Pixels to Points® tool to process drone-captured images of the base of Pena de Juaica. The resulting photogrammetric data helped Walter, historian Ashley Cowie, and a team of Ancient Origins explorers discover an “outlier platform” used by the indigenous Muisca people for lunar astronomy.

Jeff Howry, a Research Fellow at the Harvard Semitic Museum

Jeff Howry

Jeff Howry will demonstrate how the application of lidar on two continents reveals distinctly different historic landscapes.

In New England, the pattern of agriculture in the 17th and 18th centuries becomes apparent when imagery of stone walls is analyzed. Following the abandonment of farms beginning in the 1850s, much of the landscape which was previously open land has become reforested with dense hardwood species. Lidar readily presents the stone wall boundaries of the field system used by New England farmers in their land-intensive agricultural practices. In the area that was historic Palestine, sites occupied several thousands of years ago, reveal their major landscape structures through lidar.

Akpata Sylvester Balm Mifueah, a Ph.D. candidate in Geoinformatics and Surveying at University of Nigeria

Akpata Sylvester Balm Mifueah

Akpata Sylvester Balm Mifueah, who also serves as a Project Coordinator with Reddfox on NESP Nigeria, will present on the extreme importance of a healthy infrastructure to maintain safe roads and constant power supply to Nigerians.

Akapata will deliver a presentation on using Global Mapper Mobile®, geodetic principles, remote sensing, and GIS techniques to track and identify road and powerline conditions. He used the mobile app for tracking, arable land types, roads and power transmission lines in Nigeria, and processed and validated the data using remotely sensed images in Global Mapper desktop. The results were coordinates of each tracked point, and a database that shows records of roads and power line conditions.

Rudy VanDrie, a Planning Engineer in Hydrology with the Central Coast Council, Wollongong City Council and Balance Research & Development

Rudy VanDrie

Rudy VanDrie has been working in the flood modelling space since 1987. His GeoTalks 2020 presentation will highlight the benefits of using Global Mapper for flood model development and as used in a real world workflow. Flood modeling is becoming more and more detailed, as experts move away from using fixed grid coarse models and toward flexible meshes with very fine detail, requiring better representative terrain data. Global Mapper has become a standout tool for cleaning and merging data, and formulating the best possible terrain for flood modeling.

Kelsi Schwind, a Coastal and Marine System Sciences student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Kelsi Schwind

Kelsi is the 2019 winner of the Blue Marble Academic Scholarship, and a Coastal and Marine System Sciences (remote sensing emphasis) student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Kelsi will present on her research, which integrates structure-from-motion (SfM) data, airborne topobathymetric lidar-derived data, and GIS techniques to assess the impacts of Hurricane Michael on Little St. George Barrier Island off the coast of Apalachicola, Florida.

For more information about the 2020 GeoTalks speaker, check out the Speakers page at bluemarblegeo.com.

Lessons and tips on how to use Global Mapper®

In between presentations, the experts at Blue Marble Geographics demonstrate some of  the latest and lesser-known features of the company’s GIS software, Global Mapper. Using real-world scenarios, they will introduce some to the tools that were added in the recent version 21.1 release as well as several of the software’s more powerful hidden gems.

The latest Blue Marble news and product development updates

Blue Marble Geographics is constantly updating its software. GeoTalks audiences get a behind-the-scenes look at what the company is working on for the next version of Global Mapper, Geographic Calculator®, its software developer toolkits, and online geodetic repository – the GeoCalc Geodetic Registry®.

Registering for GeoTalks is easy

As well as being free and full of high-quality content, GeoTalks presentations can be viewed any time and at any place. All registrants, whether they are able to attend the live event or not, will be provided with access to recordings of all of the presentations after the event is over.

Register for GeoTalks 2020 today to save your seat. Stay tuned to the Blue Marble Geographics website and social media for more details about the March 18, 2020 event.

Register for GeoTalks

What’s new in Global Mapper v21.1?

What we at Blue Marble Geographics® call a “dot release” — Global Mapper® v21.1 — is now available and it comes with new features and improvements. In this blog entry, we list the most significant new features in our accessible and easy-to-use GIS software.

Raster Reclassification tool in Global Mapper v21.1Chelsea E | Projections
The new Raster Reclassification tool in Global Mapper v21.1.

The Raster Reclassification tool

The new Raster Reclassification tool is used to reclassify raster data for land cover analyses. Reclassification may be necessary when raster values need simplification or translation in an analysis. The tool also allows users to simplify information by grouping similar data together, for example, grouping all types of high vegetation together as “forest”.

Other reasons for using the Raster Reclassification tool are to set values to a common scale or to set specific values as “no data” to remove them from the analysis completely.

A built-in, premium access to online Blackbeard Tanuki

With a subscription, users can now access Blackbeard Tanuki’s oil and gas data services, which provides pipeline, well, and lease information. This is valuable data for oil, gas, or mineral investors; oil and gas lease owners looking for neighboring ownership; oil and gas E&P companies looking for land to lease, and landmen seeking a point of departure for oil and gas exploration.

Raster Transparency tool in Global Mapper v21.1
The improved Raster Transparency tool in Global Mapper v21.1.

Improved Raster Transparency tool

This tool allows users to render multiple colors as transparent in raster layers. This function is ideal for hiding non-imagery, background pixels or white, cloud areas in satellite imagery. It can also be used to make certain elevation ranges transparent in a terrain data, perhaps to reveal another data layer underneath.

Improved processing time for Batch Conversion/Reproject tool

The Batch Conversion/Reproject tool has been multi-threaded in Global Mapper v21.1. This means that the batch work is divided between the cores of the CPU. In other words, the batch process in v21.1 is faster because it is using multiple brains instead of one! This speed improvement was added for the many Global Mapper users who batch convert image tiles or lidar tiles to change either the format, projection, or both.

Speed improvements and efficiency improvements

The processing time for the Batch Conversion/Reproject tool has been improved significantly, due to the fact that the process is now multi-threaded. Other aspects of the software that have been made more efficient through multi-threading include the rendering of the 2D map view and the Viewshed Analysis tool.

Additional speed improvements include operations such as rendering large ECW files or creating elevation grids with large gaps to fill.

Download or upgrade your Global Mapper today

We pride ourselves on providing multiple updates each year to keep our software fresh and cutting-edge. Download or upgrade your copy of Global Mapper to version 21.1 today to take advantage of the latest new features.

Download Today!

Geo-Challenge — January 2020 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the island – Moloka’i

 

Name the country – Belize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the body of water – Lake Okeechobee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the mountain – Everest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the capital city – Riga

 

How to publish and share maps with Global Mapper and MangoMap

Beginning with version 21 of Global Mapper®, users have the option to publish maps directly from the desktop GIS software to the online web mapping service, MangoMap. This functionality is subscription-based and is enabled by activating the MangoMap extension.

MangoMap is a browser-based web mapping service that provides a simple and efficient way to share geospatial data with anyone, on any device. Setting up an online map site through Mango requires no specialized web development skills or expensive servers and the entire process takes only minutes.

This blog entry lists the steps required to publish data from Global Mapper, and customize and share it through MangoMap.

Once users have chosen their export settings and map display options, their map is sent to their MangoMap account where their data and styling are immediately ready for viewing.

Step One: Register a MangoMap account

First things first: In order to publish a map to MangoMap, Global Mapper users have to register a MangoMap account to activate the extension. This is a simple process that involves clicking the MangoMap button in the Global Mapper interface, and setting up an account with their Blue Marble login information.

Once an account is set up, users can begin publishing maps online immediately with a free trial of MangoMap!

MangoMap is ideal for publishing and sharing single-focus maps, not necessarily for maps with several layers of data. It does, however, include a map portal where users can publish a gallery of single-focus maps.

Step Two: Click the MangoMap button to publish

It’s as simple as that.

The MangoMap button in Global Mapper prompts users to name and describe their data, and choose the necessary display settings. Once these settings are defined, users click “OK” and their map is sent to their MangoMap account. The data and styling of their map is immediately ready to be viewed online.

The attributes of a parcel feature are displayed in MangoMap. Users can easily activate tools that best suit the purpose of their data in MangoMap.

Step Three: Customize tools and style settings

In MangoMap’s administration interface, users can choose to activate tools that best suit the purpose of their map. They can bookmark map features to find more easily later, and share specific items with colleagues. They can search by specific attributes, add layers, and turn on Google Street view for an alternative visualization. Users can also customize their maps by adding a logo, or changing the colors to match a brand.

MangoMap’s blog entry on Web Map Customization goes into far more detail on how users can design their maps online.

MangoMap users can share specific map features easily.

Step Four: Define map access settings, and share

Just as users can customize tools in their maps, they can also define their maps’ access settings. Users can make their data public allowing anyone to access; hidden, for anyone with a secret URL; password-protected; or internal, for only authorised users.

Sharing a map is as easy as copying the map’s URL in the web browser and sending it to a colleague. Depending on the access settings, the recipient of the map URL will be prompted to enter a password if the map is password-protected, or to login if the map is internal.

Learn more about map access in the MangoMap help center.

Bridging the gap between desktop and web mapping

Like Global Mapper, MangoMap is designed to be easy and intuitive for both the advanced and novice GIS professional. It integrates seamlessly with Global Mapper, making it the perfect solution for multi-platform map sharing for efficient collaboration.

To learn more about the Global Mapper MangoMap extension, visit bluemarblegeo.com/products/global-mapper-mango.php, and try a free trial by registering a MangoMap account through Global Mapper v21.

Using Global Mapper and Global Mapper Mobile to Prepare for a 186-Mile Bike Ride

After I crossed the finish line of the Trek Across Maine in 2018, I immediately signed up for the next ride without hesitation.

The cycling event takes place over three days and spans 180 miles — starting in the western mountains of Maine and ending on the state’s coast. It benefits the American Lung Association, which is why I chose it as my first cycling event to participate in. I rode in honor of my grandmother who had COPD.

Me in Belfast, Maine after finishing my first Trek Across Maine in June 2018.

When I finished the 2018 Trek, I was so excited that:

  1. I survived!
  2. I got to see a beautiful part of the state I live in
  3. I would be so much more confident on the next Trek because now I knew the route

But then the Trek organizers changed the route for 2019. *womp, womp, womp*

Instead of starting at Sunday River and ending in Belfast, the 2019 Trek would start and end in Brunswick, making a 186-mile loop in central Maine. The route wouldn’t “trek across” anymore, it would “trek around”.

On top of learning about the new route, I hurt my knee badly in January while doing a simple leg stretch (lame!) which was a training-changing injury. So, with a lowered confidence, I wanted to learn more about the new route.

Here’s how I used Global Mapper to visualize and mentally prepare for the 2019 Trek, and how I used Global Mapper Mobile to record my 186-mile journey.

Using Online Data and the Path Profile Tool in Global Mapper

The Trek provides GPX files for each day of the ride on the organization’s website. I downloaded these files; dragged them into Global Mapper; and uploaded elevation data, satellite imagery, and a street map from Global Mapper’s free online data sources.

Using the elevation data, I created path profile views of each of the three riding days. This allowed me to see which of the days would have the largest climbs and where those hills were located. After only a few minutes looking at the data, I could see that Day 2 would be the most challenging. Only ten miles into the 62-mile day, there would be a 375-foot climb, four 225-foot hills, and another 375-footer at mile 45.

Day 1 of the Trek Across Maine
Here’s the elevation of Day 1, the route from Brunswick to Lewiston, Maine.
Day 2 of the Trek Across Maine
Here’s Day 2 from Lewiston to Waterville, which looked like (and proved to be) the hardest day of Trek 2019.
Day 3 of the Trek Across Maine
Here’s Day 3, which appeared to be much easier than Day 2 with only one 250-foot climb at mile 31.

I also explored the “design” of the route by looking at it over satellite imagery to see the vegetation and water bodies I would be riding by. Although Day 2 appeared to be the toughest, it also looked as if it would provide some beautiful views over lakes in the rural Fayette and Readfield area.

Satellite imagery and the Trek Across Maine route in Global Mapper
The three-day route of the Trek Across Maine over satellite imagery. Day 1 is red, Day 2 is green, and Day 3 is blue.

Planning Training Rides in Global Mapper

Looking at the path profiles helped me plan my own rides for training. After talking to some cyclists and looking up popular routes in my area, I planned a 28-mile training ride from my apartment in Portland to Gray that included a 375-foot climb — a hill similar to those two big ones on Day 2.

Using the Digitizer in Global Mapper and my online data, I mapped out this training ride, too.

Training ride from Portland to Gray, Maine
Here is the 28-mile training ride I planned with the computer cursor hovering over the top of the 375-foot climb around mile 10.

Exporting my Map for the Road

In addition to using Global Mapper to look at the path profiles of each day of the Trek, I also used it to add vector points representing each rest stop along the route. After adding these points, I was ready to export my map as a Global Mapper Mobile Package (GMMP) file. Global Mapper 21 and Global Mapper Mobile v2 will allow for a native projection to be retained in a GMMP file. So as I exported, I chose to retain my projection, in my case just for visualization purposes.

I uploaded this file to my Global Mapper Mobile app, and planned on adding data to it while on the 186-mile ride.

Exporting a Global Mapper Mobile Package
Exporting a Global Mapper Mobile Package file from Global Mapper Mobile.

Picture Points and the Measuring Tool in Global Mapper Mobile

June 14, 2019 was the first day of the Trek. I had my map in my Global Mapper Mobile app, and I was ready to start documenting my ride!

There are a few ways I could add photos to my map in Global Mapper Mobile. I could create points on my map from geotagged photos, or I could take photos right in the app and add them as attributes to previously existing points. Since I take so many photos with my iPhone camera, I chose to add photos using the Picture Point Create Mode — creating points from photos I had taken outside of Global Mapper Mobile.

Creating a picture point in Global Mapper Mobile
Here are screenshots of the process of creating a picture point on my map in Global Mapper Mobile. I added a photo of my coworker Jeff and me at the second stop on Day 3.

I originally planned on using the app primarily for documenting my ride, but I found it useful in other instances.

When Day 2 really turned out to be the hardest day, I opened Global Mapper Mobile at the third rest stop to see the distance between me and Colby College — the destination of that day. It was a long 21.6 kilometers (13.4 miles) to ride with sore seat-bones and my disappointment in the shortage of fluffernutter sandwiches at this stop.

Using the Measure tool in Global Mapper Mobile
Using the Measuring tool, I figured out how much further I had to go to get to the last stop of Day 2 of the Trek Across Maine.

Global Mapper and Global Mapper Mobile: Easy as Riding a Bike

As Day 2 proved to me, riding a bike isn’t always easy. But GIS software can be!

I am not a GIS professional. I know that editing and exporting a simple map of a bike route isn’t rocket science. But Global Mapper’s user-friendliness made that non-rocket science even easier.

It took just a few minutes of viewing the route with elevation, street, and satellite data to get a better idea of what the 2019 Trek would be like. Even though exporting my Trek map to Global Mapper Mobile was the first time I had used the desktop and mobile apps in tandem, it was a very straight-forward process.

Uploading a map from Global Mapper Mobile to the Global Mapper desktop
A screenshot of the final photo I added to my map in Global Mapper Mobile. It’s a photo of my team and I just after crossing the finish line.

When I returned back to the office after my second Trek Across Maine, I exported my GMMP file from Global Mapper Mobile and imported it to my Global Mapper desktop. I clicked the vector point labeled “Finish Line” with the Feature Info tool, and up popped a photo of me and my Trek Across Maine team.

Immediately after that picture was taken, I signed up for Trek 2020 without hesitation.


Chelsea Ellis


Chelsea Ellis is Graphics and Content Coordinator at Blue Marble Geographics. Her responsibilities range from creating the new button graphics for the redesigned interface of Global Mapper 18 to editing promotional videos; from designing print marketing material to scheduling social media posts. Prior to joining the Blue Marble team, Ellis worked in graphic design at Maine newspapers, and as a freelance photographer.

Where in the World Geo-Challenge — August 2019

View the form at Google Forms >

Top Five New Features in Geographic Calculator SP1

 

Chelsea E | Projections
New dropdown to easily access recently used files in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

 

In early June, we introduced the first service pack update of Geographic Calculator 2019. The new features and functions in this version of Blue Marble’s coordinate conversion software are designed to improve its user-friendliness, accessibility, and efficiency. Although some changes seem slight, such as easier access to recently opened files, they have a big impact on user’s productivity in the software.

Here is a list of the top five new features of Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1:

1. Support for Open Document Spreadsheet (ODS) format

Opening an ODS file in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

In Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1, we added support for the open-source table format Open Document Spreadsheets (ODS) to make Geographic Calculator more accessible to OpenOffice users.

2. Support for batch processing of Area Calculation jobs

Batch processing Area Calculation jobs in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

Before the 2019 service pack, users had to process Area Calculation jobs one by one. In Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1, we’ve added batch support for performing mass calculations for multiple area files.

3. Support for the new Equal Earth projection

The new Equal Earth projection in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

In 2018, Bojan Savic, Bernhard Jenny, and Tom Patterson invented the Equal Earth projection that is inspired by the Robinson projection but retains the relative size of areas. We’ve added this new projection to the long list of projections available in Geographic Calculator.

4. Bulk Export to WKT for coordinate systems

 

Chelsea E | Projections
Bulk exporting coordinate systems together in one WKT file in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

 

Users can now bulk export multiple coordinate systems (or coordinate transformations) together in one WKT file in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1. This supports interoperability of data across platforms where coordinate systems may or may not be standardized. You can now manage your coordinate systems in Geographic Calculator, and then quickly export them to standardize the options in your other mapping packages for display and analysis.

5. Updates to the Project Manager

 

Project Manager in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1
The new Project Manage in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1 now shows the status of jobs.

 

The Project Manager in this service pack version has been updated to be the one-stop-shop for users to process and see the status of jobs in one location. In previous versions of Geographic Calculator, process status was located at the bottom of the interface, taking up screen space.

Over the past 26 years, Geographic Calculator has become an industry leader for accurate coordinate reference system and datum management. This most recent version of the software streamlines user accessibility with new batch and bulk export options, and the additional support for universal and open-source formats.

 

Blue Marble Monthly: NGS to Present at GeoTalks 2019

 

 

NEWS  |  National Geodetic Survey to Present at GeoTalks

Exciting news! The Northeast Regional Geodetic Advisor Dan Martin from the National Geodetic Survey will be speaking along side GIS professionals from BSP Engineers, LiDARUSA, and MFBI Technologies at the first annual Blue Marble GeoTalks on March 21. Martin will present on the upcoming replacement of NAD 83 and NAVD 88 in year 2022.

Registration to attend the online geo-conference is free but space is limited, so be sure to register as soon as possible.

 

 

ACADEMIC  |  And the Global Mapper Scholarship Goes to …

James Heslington!

Blue Marble is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2018-2019 Global Mapper Scholarship is James Heslington – a student in the Survey and Land/Environmental Management MSc program at the Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter. Read more about Heslington and the research project he submitted to win the $500 scholarship by clicking the link below.

 

PROJECTIONS | Five Reasons to Sign Up for Training

While all of Blue Marble’s training options have their merits, the Public Training courses come with an extra handful of benefits. This blog entry lists just a few of these opportunities for getting the most return out of a Global Mapper investment.

 

WEBINARS  |  What’s New in Global Mapper 20.1

Global Mapper v20.1 offers several new features including new Digitizer tools, significant upgrades to the Path Profile tool, enhanced LiDAR querying, and much more. In this Global Mapper webinar, that was broadcasted live on March 6, Blue Marble application specialists showcase some of the highlights of this release.

 

 

BLUE GOT MAIL  |  Changing the Color of Map Labels

Billy Noble, Applications Specialist at Blue Marble Geographics, answers questions that come into the technical support inbox. In this video, Billy demonstrates how to customize the color and fonts of labels in a layer of a map in Global Mapper.

 

mong the many upgrades included in Global Mapper v.20.1 is support for the internationally recognized S-52 symbology. An extensive collection of marine navigation symbols is now built in to the software and these are automatically applied when loading S-52 Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC).

About the chart above: Vector Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) of the approaches to Portland harbor on the coast of Maine. The internationally recognized S-52 symbology is now included in Global Mapper v.20.1.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Surprisingly, no one who entered February’s Geo-Challenge guessed that the bridge spanning New York’s East River was the Brooklyn Bridge. So much for trying to trick you. Among those who correctly identified Manhattan Bridge, along with the four other locations, was Max Shaw-Champion from Perenco. Max will shortly be receiving a copy of Global Mapper 20.1.

Click here for the correct answers to February’s challenge and to try your hand at March’s five locations, click the link below.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

EVENTS  |  Training in Orlando, Denver, and Ottawa

There are still a few seats available for the Global Mapper and LiDAR Module training classes in Denver on April 9 – 11. Sign up by April 2 to take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to get the most out of Global Mapper.

If you can’t make it to Denver, here are other Public Training opportunities in 2019:

Perth, Australia  |  July 16 – 18

Sydney, Australia  |  July 23 – 25

Calgary  |  August 13 – 15

Houston  |  October 8 – 10

Foreshadowing Geodetic Updates: NADCON 5.0 in Geographic Calculator 2019

The latest version of Blue Marble Geographics’ coordinate conversion software continues the 25-year tradition of providing solutions for the most complex geodetic challenges. Geographic Calculator 2019 offers a number of requested improvements, such as a more user-friendly interface, a universal copy and paste function, a new angular unit conversion tool, as well as several enhancements to seismic file format support. However, a closer look also reveals several new features that provide some insight into more significant shifts in Blue Marble’s future development plans.

Geographic Calculator 2019 has added support for version 5.0 of the National Geodetic Survey’s (NGS) North American Datum Conversion tool (NADCON 5.0). This single line item in the release notes may be easily overlooked, but it represents years of work by NOAA-NGS. It also represents a fundamental change in the way United States coordinate reference system and reference frame transformations are performed. Before delving into the details, let’s answer this question…

What is NADCON 5.0?

The origin of this transformation methodology is rooted in the readjustment of the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD27) to the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83). The differences between these reference frames were very regional and irregular, which resulted in shifts that could not easily be modeled with traditional mathematical transformations. The solution was the original North American Datum Conversion (NADCON) Utility, which was adopted in 1990 as the federal standard for modeling differences between the two systems.

The early versions of the NADCON transformations typically had an accuracy of 12 to 18 centimeters, which represented a significant improvement over most other large-scale models at the time. That said, the tool did have its shortcomings. According to NGS, it was “poorly documented, was applied inconsistently across regions, contained numerous errors, and was difficult to use”. Those kinds of defects were also shared by another NOAA-NGS tool called GEOCON, introduced during the realization of the NAD83(2007) reference frame. The significant difference between the original NADCON and GEOCON transformations was the latter’s ability to perform three-dimensional coordinate transformations among various newer NAD83 frames. This was also improved in GEOCON11 (version 2.0), but time constraints meant that only eleven states were able to provide data for these adjustments.

NADCON 5.0 was built to replace both of these imperfect NGS tools. Unlike its predecessors, it is well-documented, more “user-friendly”, it includes downloadable transformation grids that can be integrated into third-party software, and covers the entire United States (including overseas territories). Newer remote sensing technology and the ability to handle much larger datasets also allows for a finer level of detail during the transformation process. As with the GEOCON model, NADCON 5.0 also offers new transformations between many reference frames and three-dimensional coordinate systems, and it supports the US National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) as well as many other previously unrecognized local horizontal coordinate systems dating back to the late 1800s. It also provides local error estimates as a component of the transformation, which is likely to pique the interest of your friendly neighborhood geodesist.

How does NADCON 5.0 work?

Like the traditional NADCON version 4.0 transformation, version 5.0 is delivered as a set of grid files that can be used to move between individual reference frames. Unlike version 4.0 however, it is no longer limited to horizontal shifts. The new grid files contain fields for identifying 3D transformations between reference frames and an error metric where available. Furthermore, there is a much larger set of grids to choose from and it is no longer constrained to the traditional NAD27->NAD83 or NAD83(20xx)->NAD83(20xx) model. Instead, transformations can be performed between six separate realizations of NAD83, NAD27, and the US Standard Datum (USSD). NADCON 5.0 also provides access to precise transformations between other historic systems such as the Old Hawaiian Datum, Puerto Rico 1940, and local Alaskan systems, such as the St. Paul Island reference frame of 1897 and 1852.

Unlike the old version 4.0 transformation, NADCON 5.0 was designed to chain together various grid files to provide a more accurate result. This makes things a bit more complicated because of the need to keep track of individual transformations as components of a larger concatenated operation. The following diagram shows an example of a shift from the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 63.

Diagram from the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 63

The illustration shows a chain of transformations for moving a surveyed data point based on the USSD system to NAD83(2011). Any subset of the chain can be used independently as part of the NADCON 5.0 model. This chain process can support a new model once it is created (for example, the 2022 National Reference System) and with one grid file, associate it to all historical models.

So what is foreshadowing about the addition of NADCON 5.0 in Geographic Calculator?

NADCON 5.0 will be instrumental in the transition to yet another adjustment from NAD83 on the horizon — the introduction of the new National Reference Frame of 2022 (NATRF2022) and NSRS2022.

A graphic from the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 63 shows the errors for horizontal transformation for USSD/NAD 27/CONUS.

If you are a frequent visitor to Projections, the Blue Marble blog, you may have read an entry by Product Manager Sam Knight explaining why the new NSRS is being developed. If you haven’t seen Sam’s entry, the short explanation is that geoid and GPS-height accuracy have improved and that NAD83 did not account for the dynamic movement of our planet over time. Under the new system, all measurable gravity-related values (such as orthometric heights, geoid undulation, deflections of the vertical, etc…) will be time dependent for compatibility with the NATRF2022 coordinate systems — making for more accurate time-dependent transformations.

NSRS2022 will also replace all of the current vertical datums, which will require updates to VERTCON — another NGS transformation tool. Originally designed to transform between the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) and the North Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29), the 2022 update to VERTCON will transform orthometric heights from the old datums into heights in the new North American-Pacific Geopotential Datum (NAPGD2022).

Small changes leading up to larger changes

With awkward acronyms, complex geodetic concepts, and NGS tool history, the 2022 update as it relates to NADCON 5.0 is a lot for a short blog entry. But hopefully you get the key message: NGS is making big changes that will lead to more accurate transformations and Geographic Calculator is an early adopter of these new geodetic parameters. Be on the lookout for more updates as tools like NADCON 5.0 develop and grow. Until then, the Geographic Calculator will continue to hold a finger on the NGS pulse.

To learn more about NGS, its tools and the upcoming NSGS of 2022, visit their website at https://www.ngs.noaa.gov or read this NOAA report.

Where in the World Geo-Challenge – December 2018

View the form at Google Forms >