Many small deposits of Eemian age, including the stratotype, are found right across the North European plain. In adjacent areas, this interglacial is known by local names such as Ipswichian (Britain), Luhe or Ribains (France), Riss-Würm interglacial (Alps) and Mikulinian (Poland and Russia). It correlates primarily with MIS 5e of the deep-sea stratigraphy, though boundaries may not be exactly the same. Basins containing Eemian sediments rest directly on morainic deposits of all three Saalian ice advances, which must all, therefore, fall within MIS 6.
Indicator species of both plants and animals suggest that mean July temperatures in the early-temperate part of the interglacial were warmer than during the Holocene. For many years, palynologists have recognised a very uniform succession of temperate tree acme pollen zones and a substantial late-temperate expansion of Carpinus as hallmarks of this interglacial across much of northern Europe. In southern England, however, deposits with a similar pollen signature are being recognised on stratigraphie and palaeontological grounds as characterising not only the Ipswichian but also the previously poorly-defined interglacial stage correlating with MIS 7. High Carpinus values are known from these latter sites and from the Le Bouchet inter-glacial of the French Massif Central, also clearly correlated with MIS 7. Thus stratigraphie confusion and misinterpretations may have occurred at supposedly Eemian/Ipswichian sites unrelated to the glacial stratigraphy or to deep continuous records.
The uniformity and rapid development of Eemian vegetational successions may be ascribed to (1) rapid warming and the lack of any late-glacial climatic oscillation on the scale of the Younger Dryas, (2) the development of an open marine connection in the first half of the interglacial from the English Channel across the North and Baltic Seas to the White Sea and the Arctic Ocean, and (3) the occurrence of Saalian per-glacial refugia for Carpinus, not only in the Balkans but also on the Iberian peninsula, permitting much more rapid northward colonisation of Europe during this interglacial.
The question of climatic events within the Eemian is far from settled. Not only is the ice-core evidence ambiguous and awaiting further clarification, but the scale and synchroneity of proposed events at different continental sites in both northern and southern Europe show no clear pattern at present; clearly there is a need for more detailed investigation and interpretation. Likewise there is ongoing debate about the duration of this interglacial and its detailed correlation with the deep-sea core record and events within the North Atlantic Ocean.