A sediment core from Reykjanes Ridge has been studied at 10- to 50-year time resolution to document variability of Holocene surface water conditions in the western North Atlantic and to evaluate effects of Holocene ice-rafting episodes. Diatom assemblages are converted to quantitative sea surface temperatures (SST) using three different transfer functions. Spectral and scale-space methods are also applied on the records to explore variability at different timescales. Diatom assemblage and SST records clearly show that decaying remnants of the Laurentide ice sheet strongly influenced early Holocene climate in the western North Atlantic. This overrode the predominance of Milankovitch forcing, which played a key role in the development of Holocene climate in the eastern North Atlantic and Nordic Seas. Superimposed on general Holocene climate change is high-frequency SST variability on the order of 1°−3°C. The record also documents climatic oscillations with 600- to 1000-, ∼1500-, and 2500-year periodicities, with a time-dependent dominance of different periodicities through the Holocene; a clear change in variability occurred about 5 ka BP. The SST record also provides evidence for Holocene cooling events (HCE) that, in some cases, correlate to documented southward intrusions of ice into the North Atlantic.