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Every year since 2009 our flagship journal, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, has published a special issue that highlights geographic research around a significant global theme.

The ninth special issue of the Annals, published in March 2017, brings together 27 articles on the topic of Mountains, edited by Mark A. Fonstad. Over a two-year period, papers were sought from a wide spectrum of researchers from different parts of the world who address physical, political, theoretical, social, empirical, environmental, methodological, and economic issues focused on the geography of mountains and their inhabitants.

These articles include cutting-edge research with themes such as mountains as regions highly sensitive to climate change, as sites and corridors of cultural and environmental diversity and gradients, as sacred spaces, as sources of hazard and risk, as spaces of geopolitical conflict, as “water towers of the world”, and many other major geographical themes. The goal of this special issue is to highlight the breadth of research in mountain geographies that spans systematic, regional, and synthetic approaches, and to showcase major mountain issues around the globe to which geographical researchers contribute.

The understanding of mountain environments and peoples has been a focus of individual geographers for centuries and for the organized discipline of geography for more than a century. Over the past fifty years, mountain studies have moved from being the focus of a few individual scholars to a social process involving global agencies. With such a growing, global interest in the mountains of the world, the time is right for an Annals special issue on this subject.

Each of the articles in this special issue brings a unique perspective to mountain places and systems, and the collection of articles spans many parts of the world. Many of the articles in this special issue find commonalities amongst different mountain areas, such as their inhabitants being politically and economically marginalized from lowland populations, and who are vulnerable to natural hazards that are often large and frequent. The physical environments of mountains are often highly sensitive to climate change and resource development, but also contain a rich diversity of processes, forms, and organisms.

Amongst these articles, it is clear that to better understand the connections between different mountain environments and the peoples that inhabit them will require a variety of approaches; “muddy boots” fieldwork, geographical modeling, social theory, new tools and analytical techniques are and will be needed for the diversity of mountain questions we have today. The other clear theme amongst the articles in this special issue is the importance of place-based geographical research to understand the diverse and unique mountain peoples and environments worldwide.

The Annals of the AAG publishes six times a year (January, March, May, July, September and November). See the table of contents of the Mountains special issue or go to the T&F website to access the full articles. If you are interested in submitting a paper to the Annals, please refer to the information for authors.