Main Content


Clip polygon to world limits


[latf,lonf] = flatearthpoly(lat,lon)
[latf,lonf] = flatearthpoly(lat,lon,longitudeOrigin)


[latf,lonf] = flatearthpoly(lat,lon) trims NaN-separated polygons specified by the latitude and longitude vectors lat and lon to the limits [-180 180] in longitude and [-90 90] in latitude, inserting straight segments along the +/- 180-degree meridians and at the poles. Inputs and outputs are in degrees.

Display functions automatically cut and trim geographic data when required by the map projection. Use the flatearthpoly function only when performing set operations on polygons.

[latf,lonf] = flatearthpoly(lat,lon,longitudeOrigin) centers the longitude limits on the longitude specified by the scalar longitude longitudeOrigin.


collapse all

Vector data for geographic objects that encompass a pole must encounter or cross the date line. While the toolbox properly displays such polygons, they can cause problems for functions like the polygon intersection and Boolean operations that work with Cartesian coordinates. When these polygons are treated as Cartesian coordinates, the date line crossing results in a spurious line segment, and the polygon displayed as a patch does not have the interior filled correctly.

antarctica = shaperead('landareas', 'UseGeoCoords', true,...
    'Selector', {@(name) strcmp(name,'Antarctica'), 'Name'});
plot(antarctica.Lon, antarctica.Lat)
ylim([-100 -60])

The polygons can be reformatted more appropriately for Cartesian coordinates using the flatearthpoly function. The result resembles a map display on a cylindrical projection. The polygon meets the date line, drops down to the pole, sweeps across the longitudes at the pole, and follows the date line up to the other side of the date line crossing.

[latf, lonf] = flatearthpoly(antarctica.Lat', antarctica.Lon');
figure; mapshow(lonf, latf, 'DisplayType', 'polygon')
ylim([-100 -60])
xlim([-200 200])
axis square 

Longitude coordinate discontinuities at the Antimeridian can confuse set operations on polygons. To prepare geographic data for use with polybool or for patch rendering, cut the polygons at the Antimeridian with the flatearthpoly function. The flatearthpoly function returns a polygon with points inserted to follow the Antimeridian up to the pole, traverse the longitudes at the pole, and return to the Antimeridian along the other edge of the Antimeridian.

Create an orthographic view of the Earth and plot the coastlines on it.

axesm ortho
setm(gca,'Origin', [60 170]); framem on; gridm on
load coastlines

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains 4 objects of type patch, line.

Generate a small circle that encompasses the North Pole and color it yellow.

[latc,lonc] = scircle1(75,45,30);

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains 5 objects of type patch, line.

Flatten the small circle using the flatearthpoly function.

[latf,lonf] = flatearthpoly(latc,lonc);

Plot the cut circle that you just generated as a magenta line.


Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains 6 objects of type patch, line.

Generate a second small circle that does not include a pole.

[latc1, lonc1] = scircle1(20, 170, 30);

Flatten the circle and plot it as a red line. Note that the second small circle, which does not cover a pole, is clipped into two pieces along the Antimeridian. The polygon for the first small circle is plotted in plane coordinates to illustrate its flattened shape. The flatearthpoly function assumes that the interior of the polygon being flattened is in the hemisphere that contains most of its edge points. Thus a polygon produced by flatearthpoly does not cover more than a hemisphere.

[latf1,lonf1] = flatearthpoly(latc1,lonc1);

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains 7 objects of type patch, line.


The polygon defined by lat and lon must be well-formed:

  • The boundaries must not intersect.

  • The vertices of outer boundaries must be in a clockwise order and the vertices of inner boundaries must be in a counterclockwise order, such that the interior of the polygon is always to the right of the boundary.

For more information, see Create and Display Polygons.

Introduced before R2006a