In geology and climatology, a pluvial is either a modern climate characterized by relatively high precipitation, or an interval of time of variable length – decades to thousands of years – during which a climate is characterized by either relatively high precipitation or humidity. Subdivisions of a pluvial, which are characterized by relatively high precipitation, are known as a subpluvials. Formally, pluvials were equated with glacial stages of the Quaternary. However, pluvials, as in equatorial regions, can also occur during interglacial stages. Lower latitudes have even experienced major pluvials in early to mid-Holocene times.
In geomorphology, pluvial refers to a geologic episode, change, process, deposit, or feature that is the result of the action or effects of rain. Sometimes it also refers to the fluvial action of rainwater flowing in a stream channel, including a flood, known as a pluvial flood, that is the direct result of excessive precipitation.