Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) Data Downloads

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Military Grid Reference System

The Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) provides a means to represent any location on earth using an alphanumeric string. These strings, called MGRS coordinates or grid references, have three components:

  1. Grid zone designator
  2. 100,000 meter square identifier
  3. Increasingly granular squares

The basic building block of MGRS is the grid zone designator (GZD), adapted from the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system. The UTM divides the world into 60 zones, each with a number; MGRS creates its GZD by further dividing these zones by 20 latitude bands, each with a corresponding letter.

Each GZD is then subdivided into a series of 100,000 meter squares. MGRS assigns each of these squares a two letter code. These squares can then be further subdivided into 10,000m, 1,000m, 100m, 10m, and 1m squares. Every increased division includes an additional two digit code.

For a 1 meter MGRS (17RMP1234567890):

  • 17R: grid zone designator (GZD) (17R)
  • MP: 100,000 meter (100km) square identifier (17RMP)
  • 16: 10,000 meter (10km) square identifier (17RMP16)
  • 27: 1,000 meter (1km) square identifier (17RMP1267)
  • 38: 100 meter (100m) square identifier (17RMP123678)
  • 49: 10 meter (10m) square identifier (17RMP12346789)
  • 50: 1 meter (1m) square identifier (17RMP1234567890)

GeoPlan student employee Sophia Palombo created a MGRS story map, for those looking for a more detailed explanation.

Although developed for military use, MGRS has a wide variety of applications. Its data management capabilities include attaching information holdings and metadata, ranging from field data to biomes, to each string or square within the MGRS. In addition, existing coordinate and locality information can be retained and used for analysis. The strings or squares can be queried any number of ways to derive the characteristics of data holdings. Visualization of data holdings using any number of attributes is facilitated within the MGRS. To learn more about specific examples, see Use Cases.

MGRS Story Map MGRS Use Cases

MGRS Library

The MGRS Library is an open data source for MGRS data and information. It is operated by the University of Florida GeoPlan Center.

A map of the world with MGRS grid zone designators marked across it, yellow covering the land in the western hemisphere and red covering the land in the eastern hemisphere.
A map of the MGRS grid zone designators across North America.
An MGRS map of Florida, broken down into 100km square identifiers.
The UF GeoPlan Center logo.