How to Convert Distances From Degrees to Meters

By Emile Heskey; Updated April 24, 2017
Degrees of latitude can easily be converted into meters.

As measurements of latitude, degrees often appear as if they cannot be converted into meters or kilometers. The slight flattening of the globe at the poles means that degrees are not constant throughout the world. The extent of the discrepancy, however, is so slight that scientists work from a standard degree, which can easily be converted into meters. Knowing this will help with navigation and will improve your ability to find locations based upon latitudinal readings.

Work out the total number of degrees you have, by including the minute and second readings. Latitudinal readings are given as follows: degrees, minutes, seconds. Sixty seconds equals one minute, and 60 minutes makes 1 degree. Find out how many seconds you have by multiplying the minutes by 60. If you have 20 minutes, you have 1,200 seconds.

Add the number of seconds that make up the minute column to the number in the seconds column to find out the total number of seconds. If you have 20 minutes and 22 seconds, you have 1,200 seconds and 22 seconds. This together makes 1,222 seconds. Divide this by 3,600 to find the number of degrees. You have 0.339 degrees. Add this to the degrees to find the total number of degrees you have.

Multiply the number of degrees by 111.325. This is the standard distance, in kilometers, of a degree. For example, if you have 2 degrees, this is 222.650 kilometers. To convert this to meters, multiply by 1,000. So, 2 degrees is 222,65 meters.

About the Author

Emile Heskey has been a professional writer since 2008, when he began writing for "The Journal" student newspaper. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in modern history and politics from Oxford University, as well as a Master of Science in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies from Edinburgh University.