- A map projection in which the surface features of a globe are depicted as if projected onto a cylinder typically positioned with the globe centered horizontally inside the cylinder. In flattened form, a cylindrical projection so centered produces a rectangular map with the equator in the middle and the poles at the top and bottom. Parallels and meridians appear as straight lines that intersect each other at right angles in a grid pattern, with the meridians equally spaced and the parallels spaced progressively farther apart moving away form the equator. Distortion of shape and scale in a whole-world cylindrical projection is minimal in equatorial regions and maximal at the poles. Compare azimuthal projection conic projection. See illustration at Mercator projection.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.