• Solar activity cycle;
  • atmospheric blocking;
  • climate variability

[1] The blocking response to the 11-year solar cycle is investigated for 44 winters (1955–1999) and stratified according to the level of solar activity and the phase of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). Several blocking features are modulated by solar activity, irrespective of the QBO phase, but the responses amplify under the QBO-west phases. Solar activity modulates the preferred locations for blocking occurrence over both Oceans, causing local frequency responses therein. Over the Pacific Ocean high/low solar activity induces an enhanced blocking activity over its eastern/western part. Atlantic blocking occurrence increases for both (high/low) solar phases, with a spatial dependent response confined to western/eastern Atlantic. Although solar effects are negligible in blocking frequency for the entire Atlantic sector, other blocking features exhibit significant responses. Low solar Atlantic blocking episodes last longer, are located further east and become more intense than high solar blocking events. The implications of these solar-related changes are discussed. Our results suggest that the excessively cold conditions recorded in Europe during the Maunder Minimum may have arisen from an eastward shift of long-lasting blockings with near-normal frequencies.