How Do Map Projections Distort Earth's Surface?
ES0301  Measuring Projection Properties

The graphic below will allow you to compare distance and area on three different projections. You’ll compare these data with actual distance and area to see how each projection distorts Earth’s surface.

  !   Use the ruler tool to measure the distance between Barrow, Alaska and Miami, Florida. Look for the small red stars to help you find these locations. Move your cursor over the continent of Africa to see its area. Record the distance you measured and area for Africa in your table, then click Continue to go to the next map projection.



  !   To go back to projections you’ve already seen, click Refresh or Reload at the top of your browser window, or leave this step and come back to it using the navigation bar below.

6. Compare features and properties among the projections. Use the table to record your responses. In the Description of Shapes column, describe how Africa and North America appear compared to their shapes on a globe.

7. Which projection minimizes distortion of South America, Africa, and areas near the equator?

8. Which projection minimizes distortion of the United States and other temperate regions?

9. Which projection minimizes distortion of land in polar regions? Look at Antarctica or Greenland.


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