**Steven Mosher's Blog**, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I’ve modified some routines so that we are always grabbing a roughly equal area regardless of the latitude. Basically, you do this:

getLonScaleFactor <- function(lat){ kmAtEq <-111.3195 kmAtLat <- 111.41288*cos(lat*DEGREES.TO.RADIANS)-.09350*cos(3*lat*DEGREES.TO.RADIANS)+0.00012*cos(5*lat*DEGREES.TO.RADIANS) return(kmAtEq/kmAtLat) } # the above function returns a scale factor for km per degree @ a given latitude getExtent <-function(x,halfLength=.5,LonLat) { lonAdjust<-getLonScaleFactor(LonLat[2])*halfLength yMin <- max(ymin(x),LonLat[2] - halfLength) yMax <- min(ymax(x),LonLat[2] + halfLength) xMin <- max(xmin(x),LonLat[1] - lonAdjust) xMax <- min(xmax(x),LonLat[1] + lonAdjust) e <- extent(xMin,xMax,yMin,yMax) return(e) }

Simply we feed getExtent a “raster”, a point, and a “halfLength” The last parameter tells you how wide and tall your plot will be. So the default of .5 means that your “point” will be bracketed by 1/2 a degree of latitude (+- 1/2 degree) and the longitude will be scaled depending upon the latitude. At the equator, this entails 1/2 degree in each direction. Toward the pole, I adjust the width to keep the areas generally similar. Note, the underlying data is not globally complete, there are small gaps at the pole. In a better implementation of “getExtent” I would wrap at the extrema. Then I played with colors. Arrg I hate doing color by number:

And by changing the call to “getExtent() I can request a grid that only looks out .25 degrees in latitude and longitude.

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