[R] Plotting boundary lines from shapefiles overtop a map of Canada

Alain Dubreuil alain.dubreuil at cae.com
Tue Sep 23 18:17:20 CEST 2014

Hi all,

Based on Ray's suggestions, I have tried the following script:

# Create a map of Canada in Lambert projection
map(database= "worldHires","Canada", ylim=c(39,90), xlim=c(-145,-25), col=alpha("grey90",0.5), fill=TRUE, projection="lambert", param=c(50,65))
# Use test position vectors to draw lines
yValue <- c(49.0, 49.0, 60.0, 60.0)
xValue <- c(105.0, 120.0, 120.0, 105.0)
# Convert the test vectors into lambert and then draw the lines
testLines <- mapproject(yValue, xValue, proj="lambert", param=c(50,65))

The script draws the map of Canada, but fails to draw the lines.  Please let me know what I'm doing wrong because I can't see it.  By the way, not specifying the lambert projection in the call to mapproject yields different results than specifying it which seems contrary to the documentation (?).


Alain Dubreuil
Ottawa, Canada

-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Brownrigg [mailto:Ray.Brownrigg at ecs.vuw.ac.nz] 
Sent: September-23-14 4:41 AM
To: Alain Dubreuil; r-help at r-project.org
Subject: Re: [R] Plotting boundary lines from shapefiles overtop a map of Canada

On 23/09/2014 3:27 a.m., Alain Dubreuil wrote:
> Hi.  I have a requirement to plot a series of points on a map of Canada along with boundaries defining search and rescue (SAR) regions.  I have been successful in plotting the map of Canada (Lambert projection) and the points, but I have been unable thus far to plot the SAR regions on top of the map.  I'm at the point now where I need help to resolve the issue.
> To plot the map of Canada, I have used the following line of code:
>        map(database= "worldHires","Canada", ylim=c(39,90), 
> xlim=c(-150,-25), col=alpha("grey90",0.5), fill=TRUE, 
> projection="lambert", param=c(50,65))
> Note that the ylim and xlim limits go wider that the actual coordinates of Canada, but that is necessary because the SAR regions go out to sea quite a distance.  Also, I need the map to go all the way to the North Pole.
> To plot the points, I have used a "dummy" list of points which I will eventually replace with my real data.  I convert the points to the lambert projection on the fly using the following lines of code:
>        lon <- c(-60, -60, -80, -80.1, -90, -105, -140)  #a test longitude vector
>        lat <- c(42.5, 42.6, 54.6, 54.4, 75, 68.3, 60)  #a test latitude vector
>        coord <- mapproject(lon, lat, proj="lambert", param=c(50,65))  #convert points to projected lat/long
>        points(coord, add=TRUE, pch=20, cex=1.2, col=alpha("red", 0.5))  
> #plot converted points
> As stated, plotting the SAR regions has not worked thus far.  The best I have ever gotten is a square box around the map.  I have data files that list the coordinates of the SAR regions, which is a succession of up to 12100 lat & long points.  A colleague converted those data files into shapefiles defining polygons, with the coordinates already projected to Lambert.  I have tried various options to plot the regions, but none have worked.
> Using readOGR:
>        region <- readOGR(dsn="C:/myRfolder",layer="mySARshapefile")
>        plot(region, add=TRUE, xlim=c(-150,-25),ylim=c(39,90), 
> col=alpha("lightgreen", 0.6), border=TRUE)
You don't state which package readOGR() comes from, but it is not part of the maps package, which doesn't understand shapefiles, so just using
plot() on top of a (projected) map() is unlikely to succeed.

I believe what you have to do is go back to your lat/long pairs for your SAR regions and use mapproject() to convert them to the coordinates used by the plotted projection. Note that you don't need the proj="lambert" 
option when you call mapproject() after a call to map() with a projection because the most recent projection (and its parameters) are "remembered".  Also I suspect (though untested) is that if you put NA pairs in between your lists of projected SAR regions, then you can just use lines() to draw them all at once.

Hope this helps,
Ray Brownrigg
> Using read.shp and draw.shp:
>        region <- read.shp("C:/myRfolder/mySARshapefile.shp")
>        draw.shape(shape=region, type="poly", col="red")
> Using readShapePoly:
>        region <- readShapePoly("C:/ myRfolder/mySARshapefile.shp")
>        plot(halRegion, add=TRUE, xlim=c(-150,-25),ylim=c(39,90), 
> col=alpha("lightgreen", 0.6), border=TRUE)
> Using readShapeLines after converting the region coordinates to a Lines shapefile instead of a Polygon shapefile:
>        region <- readShapeLines("C:/myRfolder/mySARshapefile_lines.shp")
>        lines(region, col=alpha("black", 0.6))
> I have tried playing with spplot, but I haven't quite understood how this one works yet (gives me an error message: "Error in stack.SpatialPointsDataFrame(as(data, "SpatialPointsDataFrame"),  :   all factors should have identical levels")
> I would appreciate any help or insight that you could provide to help me get those boundaries drawn on-top of the country map.
> Thanks
> Alain Dubreuil
> Ottawa, Canada

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