UTM Coordinates

UTM Stands for Universal Transverse Mercator. It is another grid system that can be used to find your position. It is most commonly used in the military and for research as well as survey purposes. The UTM system divides the surface of the earth up into a grid. Each grid is identified by a number across the top called the zone number and a letter down the right hand side called the zone designator. For example, Philadelphia Pennsylvania is in UTM grid 18 N.

Every spot within a zone can be defined by a coordinate system that uses meters. Your vertical position is defined in terms of meters north and your horizontal position is given as meters east. They are sometimes referred to as your northing and easting. In the following picture you can see the northing and easting coordinates on the boarder of the topo map. They are the small bold black numbers. Along the edge of the map the first UTM shown is 3901000 meters north. On a regular topo map the dash above that number would be blue. As you go up the right hand side of the map, the next UTM is 3902000 meters north. As you go up the right hand side of the map every time you pass a the small blue dash you have gone up 1000 meters (one meter = 3.281 feet). The same applies with the UTM's across the bottom of the map. As you move to the right the number gets larger and there is 1000 meters between each tick mark.

Look at point "A" on the map.  It is about half way between the two labeled UTM tic marks (3,902,000 and 3,901,000), so it's northing is about 3,901,500.  Point "A" is directly above the UTM tic mark 454,000, so it's easting is 454,000.  This map is located in UTM zone 12 so the correct location for point "A" using UTM coordinates is:

12N 454,000 3,901,500


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