A stadial is a period of colder temperatures during an interglacial, of insufficient duration or intensity to be considered a glaciation, or glacial period. Notable stadials include the Older and Younger Dryas events and the Little Ice Age.

An interstadial is a warmer period during a glaciation of insufficient duration or intensity to be considered an interglacial. Generally, interstadials endure for less than ten thousand years, interglacials for more than ten thousand. The Eemian, which lasted from c. 131 to 114 thousand years ago, was the last interglacial prior to the present Holocene epoch. The Bølling Oscillation and the Allerød Oscillation, where they are not clearly distinguished in stratigraphic evidence, are taken together to form the Bølling/Allerød interstadial, which ran from c. 14,700 to 12,700 years before the present.

During the hundred thousand years of the most recent ice age (the Wisconsin glaciation), Greenland ice cores show 24 interstadials, called Dansgaard-Oeschger events; they have been most extensively studied, and sometimes named (the Brorup interstadial, the Odderade, Oerel, Glinde, Hengelo, Denekamp, etc.) in their northern European contexts.

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