Climate Change

Ice Ages

What were the glacial and interglacial periods in the last Ice Age?

In the last Ice Age (and in all ice ages), there were cycles of glacial (when ice covered the land) and interglacial (relatively warmer temperatures) times. Corresponding with these times, the glaciers advanced or retreated. Scientists believe the last Ice Age—also called the Pleistocene Ice Age—had eight cycles. The following lists these stages for North America (stage names for northern and central Europe differ). All dates are approximate:

Giaclai/interqiacia! Periods

Approximate Years Ago   North American Stage
75,000–10,000   Wisconsin*
120,000–75,000   Sangomonian (interglacial)
170,000–120,000   Illinoian
230,000–170,000   Yarmouth (interglacial)
480,000–230,000   Kansan
600,000–480,000   Aftonian (interglacial)
800,000–600,000   Nebraskan
1,600,000–800,000   Pre-Nebraskan
* Note: During the Wisconsin glacial stage, an interstadial period occurred—a time not warm or prolonged enough to be called an interglacial period.


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