The terms easting
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...
A Cartesian coordinate system specifies each point uniquely in a plane by a pair of numerical coordinates, which are the signed distances from the point to two fixed perpendicular directed lines, measured in the same unit of length...
for a point. Easting refers to the east
East is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.East is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of west and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the right side of a map is east....
ward-measured distance (or the x
-coordinate), while northing refers to the north
North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the top side of a map is north....
ward-measured distance (or the y
-coordinate). The coordinates are commonly measured in metres from a horizontal datum—however imperial units (e.g., survey feet) are also used.
When using the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system
The Universal Transverse Mercator geographic coordinate system uses a 2-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system to give locations on the surface of the Earth. It is a horizontal position representation, i.e...
(UTM), northing is the distance in metres to the equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....
, while easting is the distance in metres to the false easting
A meridian is an imaginary line on the Earth's surface from the North Pole to the South Pole that connects all locations along it with a given longitude. The position of a point along the meridian is given by its latitude. Each meridian is perpendicular to all circles of latitude...
that is uniquely defined for each UTM zone.
The term northing
has also been used by explorers to describe a general progress toward the North Pole. Isaac Israel Hayes
Isaac Israel Hayes was an Arctic explorer and physician.Hayes was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania. After completing his medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Hayes signed on as ship's surgeon for an 1853-5 expedition led by Elisha Kent Kane to search for John Franklin...
used this term in a 1861 address to the New-York Geographical and Statistical Society saying, "The want of steam power curtailed my northing."
Notation and conventions
Locations can be found using easting/northing (or x
) pairs. The pair is usually represented conventionally with easting first, northing second.
For example, the peak of Mount Assiniboine
Mount Assiniboine, also known as Assiniboine Mountain, is a mountain located on the Great Divide, on the British Columbia/Alberta border in Canada....
(at 50°52′10"N 115°39′03"W) in UTM Zone 11 is represented by
11U 594934 5636174
. Other conventions can also be used, such as a truncated grid reference, which would shorten the example coordinates to