Description

r = earth_radius returns 6371000, the nominal radius of the Earth in meters.

r = earth_radius(lat) gives the radius of the Earth as a function of latitude.

r = earth_radius(...,'km') returns values in kilometers.

Get the nominal Earth radius in meters:

ans =
6371000

...or in kilometers:

ans =
6371

Example 2: Latitude dependence of Earth's radius

The Earth is more of an ellipsoid than a sphere, meaning its radius depends on latitude. Percentage-wise, how far off is the nomonal Earth radius at the Equator?

ans =
-0.1119

That says the nominal Earth radius of 6371 km is about a tenth of a percent smaller than the true radius at the Equator. Should we expect the same error at the North Pole?

ans =
0.2241

In fact, the nominal radius is about two tenths of a percent larger than the true radius at the poles. Here's Earth's radius as a function of latitude:

lat = 0:90;

plot(lat,r)
axis tight
box off

xlabel latitude

legend('latitude dependent','nominal')
legend boxoff Example 3: A grid

Use cdtgrid to make a global grid, and earth_radius to get Earth's radius at each point on the grid:

[lat,lon] = cdtgrid;

Plot them on a globe with globepcolor:

figure
globepcolor(lat,lon,r)
globeborders   % plots political boundaries
globegraticule % plots grid lines
axis tight     % removes empty space
cb = colorbar; 