How Do Latitude and Longitude Coordinates Help Us See Patterns on Earth?
 ES0303 Gridding the Earth

As you've just seen, it can be difficult to find geographic relationships among data presented in a table. Plotting that data onto a map can make it easier to identify any relationships that may exist.

Maps help us to precisely locate places on Earth. Imaginary lines running north-south and east-west form a grid that can be used to describe any location on the globe. Using the grid is very similar to the x-y plotting you use in mathematics classes. The x-axis on Earth is the equator and the y-axis is the prime meridian. The position of any point on Earth is reported with reference to these two special lines.

!   Use the buttons to turn the latitude and longitude lines and grid on and off. Read the caption under the graphic for each type of line. With a partner, discuss any methods you know of that can help you remember the differences.

 Lenni Armstrong, Informmotion/NOAA

3. Which lines (longitude or latitude) run from north to south?

4. Which lines (longitude or latitude) run from east to west?

5. Which line is the reference line for longitudes?

6. Which line is the reference line for latitudes?

!   Turn the lines on and off as needed until you feel confident that you can use latitude and longitude coordinates to plot data on a map.

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