North American Datum 1983 (NAD83)

NAD83 definitions

The North American Datum 1983 (NAD83) is a geocentric datum that was established in 1986 for the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands. Hawaii and Greenland were also connected to this datum. It is based on a horizontal adjustment of conventional survey data and the inclusion of Transit Satellite Doppler data and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) data. The global Doppler and VLBI observations were used to orient the NAD83 reference frame to the BIH Terrestrial System of 1984. The orientation of the ECEF coordinate axes of the NAD83 reference frame is identical to that of the original  WGS84 reference frame.

Defining parameters

NAD83 uses the Geodetic Reference System 1980 (GRS80) ellipsoid as its reference ellipsoid with the geometric center of the ellipsoid coincident with the center of mass of the Earth and the origin of the coordinate system.


ParameterNotationValue

Semi-major Axis

a

6378137.0 m

Flattening Factor of the Earth

1/f

298.257222101

The difference between the GRS 80 and WGS 84 values for f creates a difference of 0.1 mm in the derived semi-minor axes of the two ellipsoids.

NAD83 realizations

The EPSG database lists all NAD83 datums without spaces between 'NAD' and '83', and 'NAD83' and e.g. '(HARN)', whereas the NGS uses 'NAD 83' and e.g. 'NAD 83 (HARN)' most of the time.


Geog 2D CodeDatum CodeShort NameDatum EpochArea CodeArea NameRemarks
42696269NAD8319861350USA CONUS, Alaska, Hawaii; PRVI; CanadaAlso known as 'NAD83 (1986)'.
In Canada and USA, replaced NAD27.
For surveying purposes, agrees with the original WGS 84 realization.
Linked to ITRF90 by 7-parameter Helmert transformation, WGS84.TXT.
41526152NAD83 (HARN)1989-19971337USA CONUS, Hawaii; PRVI; Guam; American SamoaState-wide High Accuracy Reference Networks defined by NADCON shift files.
In Continental USA (excludes Alaska) and Hawaii, replaces NAD83 for applications
with an accuracy of better than 1m. In Conterminous US replaced by NAD83 (NSRS2007).


NAD83 (CSRS96)1989
Canada (all provinces)Canadian Spatial Reference System.
First 3D realization of NAD83 in Canada.
Linked to ITRF89 by 7-parameter Helmert transformation.
46176140NAD83 (CSRS)19981061Canada (all provinces)Canadian Spatial Reference System.
Linked to ITRF96 by 7-parameter Helmert transformation.
In Canada, replaces NAD83.
41406140NAD83 (CSRS98)19981336Canada (AB/NB/SK/PE/QC)

Original name for (identical to) NAD83 (CSRS).
In New Brunswick, superseded ATS77 from 1999.

6783 1133 NAD83 (CORS96)2002.00
2003.00
1511 USA CONUS, Alaska, PRVIContinuously Operating Reference Station network.
Reference epoch is 2003.0 in Alaska, 2002.0 elsewhere.
Linked to ITRF96 by 7-parameter Helmert transformation.
In Alaska, used for GEOID09 model for NAVD88 heights.


NAD83 (PACP00)1993.62
Hawaii, American Samoa

CORS coordinates fixed to Pacific tectonic plate.
Reference epoch is NAD83 realization for 1993-08-14.
In Hawaii, used for GEOID09 model for EGM2008 heights.
In American Samoa, used for GEOID09 model for ASVD02 heights.



NAD83 (MARP00)1993.62
GuamCORS coordinates fixed to Mariana tectonic plate.
Reference epoch is NAD83 realization for 1993-08-14.
In Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, used for GEOID09 model for NMVD03 heights.
47596759NAD83 (NSRS2007)2002.00
2003.00
2007.00
1511USA CONUS, Alaska, PRVINational Spatial Reference System.
Reference epoch is 2007.0 in western Conterminous US.
Reference epoch is 2003.0 in Alaska, 2002.0 elsewhere.
In Conterminous US, used for GEOID09 model for NAVD88 heights.
In Puerto Rico, used for GEOID09 model for PRVD02 heights.
6318 1116 NAD83 (2011)2010.001511 USA CONUS, Alaska; PRVIContinuously Operating Reference Station network.
In Conterminous US and Alaska, used for GEOID12A model for NAVD88 heights.
In Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, used for GEOID12A model for PRVD02/VIVD09 heights.
6322 1117NAD83 (PA11)2010.004162Hawaii, American SamoaCORS coordinates fixed to Pacific tectonic plate.
In Hawaii, used for GEOID12A model for EGM2008 heights.
In American Samoa, used for GEOID12A model for ASVD02 heights.
6325 1118 NAD83 (MA11)2010.004167 GuamCORS coordinates fixed to Mariana tectonic plate.
In Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, used for GEOID09 model for GUVD04/NMVD03 heights.

Transformation parameters

Transformations between NAD83 realizations and ITRF are given in ITRF Transformation Parameters.xlsx (NAD83 sheet).

Rotations are for the position vector rotation convention. Units are meters, mas (milliarcsecons) and ppb (parts-per-billion).
1 mas = 0.001 " = 2.77778 e-7 degrees = 4.84814 e-9 radians. 0.001 " corresponds to about 0.030 m at the earth's surface.

Note. Not all transformation parameters in the NAD83 sheet have been tested. Always check the original documentation.

United States and Canada

In summary, surveyors and others have witnessed various realizations of NAD83 in the United States. A similar evolution occurred in Canada, but the two countries at least agree on their first and last realizations. The U.S. realizations are consistent in their choice of origin and orientation; they differ, however, in their choice of scale. While the scale difference between NAD83 (1986) and NAD83 (HARN) equals -0.0871 ppm, the scale difference between NAD83 (HARN) and any NAD83 (CORSxx) is smaller than 0.005 ppm in magnitude. It should be noted that the NAD83 (HARN) latitude and/or longitude of a given control point may differ by up to 1 meter from its corresponding NAD83 (1986) coordinate. Fortunately, the horizontal discrepancy between the NAD83 (CORS93) and NAD83 (HARN) positions for a control point is almost always less than 10 cm, and the horizontal discrepancy between any two NAD83 (CORSxx) positions for a control point is almost always less than 2 cm. In addition, as NAD83 has evolved from mostly a horizontal reference system to a full 3D reference system, the number of control points with measured ellipsoidal heights has grown dramatically. 

NAD83, WGS84 and ITRF

Unfortunately, the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) still considers the G-series realizations of WGS84 to be identical with the original realization. Thus, the zero transformation with respect to NAD83 has never been revised in spite of the bias being clearly measurable. This has created problems when using WGS84-based correction services and trying to convert results to NAD83. Most receiver manufactures include only the original NIMA coordinate shifts (translations) in their receiver firmware, which are zero for NAD83. Consequently, many receivers are producing so-called NAD83 coordinates that are actually still in WGS84 and biased by 1.5 to 2 metres (horizontally; 0 to 0.3 metres vertically) with respect to the true NAD83 reference frame.

New WGS84 realizations (since G730, 1994) are coincident with ITRF at about 10-centimeter level. For these realizations there are no official transformation parameters. This means that one can consider that ITRF coordinates are also expressed in WGS84 at 10 cm level. However, the most recent G1674 realization adopted ITRF2008 coordinates for more than half of the reference stations and velocities of nearby sites for the others. Thus, ITRF2008 and WGS84 (G1674) are likely to agree at the centimeter level, yielding conventional 0-transformation parameters. For more information, check ftp://itrf.ensg.ign.fr/pub/itrf/WGS84.TXT.

Replacing NAD83 and NAVD88

NAD83 and NAVD88 (North American Vertical Datum of 1988) will be replaced in 2022, and there are many related projects to make sure the transition goes smoothly. Read the NGS Ten-Year Plan to learn more and continue to visit NGS's web-page on New Datums for more information.

References