Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

Mapping mountain areas: learning from Global, European and Norwegian perspectives

  • Martin F. PriceEmail author
  • Tor Arnesen
  • Erik Gløersen
  • Marc J. Metzger
Open Access


Defining the spatial extent of mountain areas has long been a challenge. In the present century, the availability of digital elevation models (DEMs) incorporated into geographic information systems (GIS) has allowed the definition of mountain areas based on topographic and other criteria. This paper presents the various delineations of mountains that have been prepared at three scales – global, regional (Europe), and national – and explores the reasons and processes leading to these delineations, and how they have been used. A detailed case study is then presented for Norway. Overall, two types of approaches to mapping mountains have been taken: first, considering mountains per se, based on elevation and/or topography; second, considering them among other categories, e.g., landforms or biogeographical, environmental or landscape zones. All attempts to map mountain areas derive essentially from the objectives of those commissioning and/or undertaking the work; a unitary definition remains unlikely.


Mountains Mapping Geographic information systems Europe Norway Topography 



The Norwegian case study was financed under a contract with Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation in Norway.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth CollegeUniversity of the Highlands and IslandsPerthUK
  2. 2.Mountain Research ProgrammeEastern Norway Research InstituteLillehammerNorway
  3. 3.Spatial ForesightTerritorial Policy Support and ResearchParisFrance
  4. 4.Research Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment, School of GeoSciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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