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For Stadial theory in sociology, see Sociocultural evolution#Stadial theory.

A stadial is a period of lower temperatures during an interglacial (warm period) separating the glacial periods of an ice age. Such periods are of insufficient duration or intensity to be considered glacial periods. Notable stadials include the Older Dryas and Younger Dryas stadials and the Little Ice Age.

An interstadial is a warm period during a glacial period of an ice age that is of insufficient duration or intensity to be considered an interglacial.

Generally, stadials endure for a thousand years or less, interstadials for less than ten thousand years, interglacials for more than ten thousand and glacials for about one hundred thousand. The Eemian Stage, which lasted from about 130,000 to 114,000 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 the stratigraphy, are taken together to form the Bølling/Allerød interstadial, and dated from about 14,700 to 12,700 years before the present.[1]

Greenland ice cores show 24 interstadials during the one hundred thousand years of the Wisconsin glaciation.[2] Referred to as the Dansgaard-Oeschger events, they have been extensively studied, and in their northern European contexts are sometimes named after towns, such as the Brorup, the Odderade, the Oerel, the Glinde, the Hengelo, the Denekamp, etc.

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  1. ^ Cronin, Thomas M. (1999). Principles of Climatology. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 204. 
  2. ^ Wilson, R. C. L.; Drury, S. A.; Chapman, J. L. (2000). The Great Ice Age: Climate Change and Life. London: Routledge. p. 125. ISBN 0-415-19841-0.