Mapping Toolbox

Analyze and visualize geographic information


Mapping Toolbox™ provides algorithms, functions, and an app for analyzing geographic data and creating map displays in MATLAB®. You can import vector and raster data from a wide range of file formats and web map servers. The toolbox lets you subset and customize data using trimming, interpolation, resampling, coordinate transformations, and other techniques. Geospatial data can be combined with base map layers from multiple sources in a single map display. You can export data in file formats such as shapefile, GeoTIFF, and KML. By incorporating mapping functions into MATLAB programs, you can automate frequent tasks in your geospatial workflow.

Get Started:

Geographic Data Import and Export

Mapping Toolbox imports a wide range of GIS and geospatial file formats, enabling you to read both vector and raster data into the MATLAB environment. The toolbox helps you reduce access time and improve memory usage by providing functionality for specific file types to read a portion of a file and downsample data prior to use. The toolbox supports georeferenced imagery and other raster data grids, including orthoimagery, geolocated satellite swaths, digital terrain elevation models, and various global data grids.

Mapping Toolbox also exports data to a number of file formats, enabling you to share data with applications such as Google Earth™ and ArcGIS®. Using the toolbox with MATLAB or Image Processing Toolbox™ provides access to additional file formats.

Collapse of the Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarctica, over a 3-month period. Original coastline segmented using Image Processing Toolbox. Images courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.

2D and 3D Map Displays

Mapping Toolbox provides visualization functions and an app for producing customized 2D and 3D map displays. The map displays can be simple or sophisticated, and can be tuned to your application. You can readily combine raster and vector data sets of different scales in the same display. For example, you can display images and data grids in their correct positions—regardless of resolution or area covered—and then overlay vector map features.

With the visualization functions in the toolbox, you can:

  • Create 2D map displays with raster and vector data
  • Create 3D map displays with customized lighting, shading and perspective
  • Create contour maps from raster and geolocated grid data
  • Create thematic maps, drape imagery over 3D surfaces, and display maps as images
Map display of eastern Massachusetts town borders and hydrology with a scale ruler, north arrow, and an inset map of the northeast United States. Image courtesy of Office of Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS).

Web Mapping

Create Web Map Displays

A web map is an interactive, dynamic map display that uses basemaps from Web-based data sources to give your data a visually rich contextual background. With Mapping Toolbox, you can create web map displays from sources such as OpenStreetMap, ESRI ArcGIS Online, and many WMS servers. You can pan across the map, zoom in/out to view higher/lower resolution basemap data, specify the geographic region to view, and more. You can create overlays of markers and lines with related attribute data such as names and colors. Web map displays enable simple map creation using high resolution base maps without having to load the entire dataset into MATLAB.

Weather data on top of satellite imagery for the continental United States. Image Processing Toolbox is used to segment the primary storm from national weather data, and geodetic calculations are made using Mapping Toolbox to find the area of the storm. Data courtesy of NOAA, as retrieved via the Iowa Environmental Mesonet WMS Server, and NASA-JPL/Caltech.

Terrain and Elevation Analysis

Mapping Toolbox supports the visualization and analysis of 3D data, such as digital terrain, bathymetry, and other gridded-data products. It provides functions to visualize terrain data and add annotations such as contour lines. You can control lighting, shading, colormaps, and other aspects of the display. The toolbox also provides functions to calculate gradient, slope, aspect, line-of-sight visibility, and viewsheds.

A composite 3D map of San Francisco created with functions in Mapping Toolbox. DEM data and orthoimage courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.

Geometric Geodesy and Map Projections

Geometric Geodesy

With geometric geodesy features in Mapping Toolbox, you can perform geodetic calculations that account for the curvature of Earth and other planetary bodies. You can find the surface area of arbitrary polygons or quadrangles on spheres and ellipsoids, calculate the intersections of geometric objects, compute the distance between points on a sphere or ellipsoid, and find the overlapping area between polygons.

Map Projections

Mapping Toolbox contains more than 65 of the most popular and important map projections for displaying the curved surface of planetary bodies on a 2D map display. They include equal-area, equidistant, conformal, and hybrid projections in the cylindrical, conic, and azimuthal classes. The toolbox also supports projections in the PROJ.4 library and the UTM/UPS systems. Many projections support both spherical and ellipsoidal models of Earth and other bodies.

Mercator, Mollweide, and sinusoidal projections (clockwise from top). Images courtesy NASA-JPL/Caltech.

Data Representation and Transformations

Vector Data Representation

With Mapping Toolbox, you can work with vector data as X-Y or latitude-longitude vectors or as objects where other metadata can be maintained and organized. In both cases, the toolbox provides functionality to help you manipulate the data, including splitting, merging, and reordering data points. It also provides functionality to interpolate between waypoints and increase the sample density of your data with several interpolation techniques.

Overlay of vector data for Concord, Massachusetts. Data courtesy of Office of Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS).

Coordinate Transformations

Mapping Toolbox provides a variety of coordinate transformations for the common system conversions required when combining data from multiple sources. You can perform 3D geometric computations in the near-earth environment and transform point locations between 3D geodetic, geocentric, local east-north-up (ENU), local north-east-down (NED), and local spherical systems. These transformations include core functionality, over which 3D datum transformations (Helmert and Bursa-Wolfe) can be implemented, for example, to combine data referenced to WGS84 with legacy maps based on older datums.

Latest Features

3-D Geographic Plotting

Plot 3-D data on a geographic globe using geoglobe and geoplot3

3-D Geographic Plotting

Add and remove custom terrain

Raster Import

Read geospatial raster data from a file using readgeoraster and georasterinfo

Raster Cropping

Crop raster data using geocrop and mapcrop

egm96geoid Function

Return geoid heights referenced to geographic reference object

See the release notes for details on any of these features and corresponding functions.