Mapping Mountain Areas: Learning from Global, European and Norwegian perspectives

Martin F. Price, Tor Arnesen, Erik Gløersen, Marc Metzger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.


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