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Georeferencing a raster automatically to another raster

Auto Georeference Auto Georeference allows you to automatically georeference your raster dataset to a referenced raster dataset. The automated control points are based on the spectral signatures of different locations across your image, so it is meant for aerial and satellite imagery which are similar in nature. The Auto Georeference function does not work well with scanned maps, historical data, or elevation data.

To use it, you must place the nongeoreferenced raster in the generally correct geographic location along with a referenced raster that is in a known coordinate system. The Prepare group tools, such as Locate Locate, Fit To Display Fit to Display, Move Move, Rotate Rotate, and Rescale Scale can help you place the raster in the approximate geographic location. When you click the Auto Georeference button, the system will create control points from your unreferenced raster to your referenced raster layer. If accurate control points cannot be created, you may need to adjust the source raster to better overlap the referenced raster.

To achieve a higher success rate in auto georeferencing, the two images need to be as similar as possible: geographic location, time and season, image orientation, image scale, and band combination.

Saving the ArcGIS Pro project does not save the current state of a georeferencing session. Export your control points before you close the project.

  1. In ArcGIS Pro, add the layer residing in map coordinates. The layer must be an image of similar geographic location, time and season, orientation, scale, and band combination as the image you are automatically georeferencing.
  2. Add the raster dataset you want to georeference.

    Adding the data with the map coordinate system first is a good practice so you do not need to set the map frame coordinate system. It also places the raster you are georeferencing above the reference layers.

  3. In the Contents pane, right-click a target layer (the dataset in the correct location) and click Zoom to Layer.
  4. In the Contents pane, click the source raster layer you want to georeference.
  5. To display the Georeference tab, click the Imagery tab and click Georeference.

    The tools on the Georeference tab are split into several groups to help you use the correct tool in the proper phase of your georeferencing session.

  6. In the Prepare group, click Set SRS Set spatial reference system.

    If your raster dataset already has a spatial reference, it will be automatically used as the coordinate system for the map and the georeferencing session. If your raster dataset does not have a spatial reference, the Map Properties dialog box will appear, and you can choose the coordinate system to set for the georeferencing session; the default spatial reference is the current coordinate system of the map.

  7. Use the navigation tool to zoom and pan to the location where your source raster is located.
    1. Optionally, you can use Locate Locate to zoom in to a city or address.
  8. Click Fit To Display Fit to Display.

    The raster layer you are georeferencing is placed with the current map display.

  9. Optionally, you can use the Move Move, Scale Scale, and Rotate Rotate tools to move the raster as needed.
  10. In the Contents pane, turn off the visibility of any layer that you do not want to use as a reference dataset. This includes turning off the visibility of the basemap layer, unless it is the World Imagery layer.
  11. In the Adjust group, click the Auto Georeference button Auto Georeference.

    The system will attempt to match your raster to the reference layers.

  12. Use the Transforms drop-down menu Transformation to choose the transformation you want to use.

    Zero-order polynomial

    Minimum of one control point required

    First-order polynomial

    Minimum of three control points required


    Minimum of three control points required

    Projective transformation

    Minimum of four control points required

    Second-order polynomial

    Minimum of six control points required

    Third-order polynomial

    Minimum of ten control points required

    Spline transformation

    Minimum of ten control points required

  13. In the Review group, click the Control Point Table button Open Control Point Table to evaluate the residual error for each control point.

    Press the L key to toggle the transparency of your source raster on and off.

  14. Delete any unwanted control points using the Control Point Table.
  15. Use Add Control Points Add Control Points to add control points in an area that needs more control points.
  16. If you're satisfied with the current alignment, stop entering control points.
  17. In the Save group, choose how you want to persist your georeferencing information.

    Save Save

    Saves the georeferencing information with the raster and its auxiliary files

    Save as New Save as new

    Creates a new raster file with the georeferencing information

    Export Control Points Export Control Points

    Saves the control points within a text file

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