A high-resolution sediment core from the Vøring Plateau has been studied to document the centennial to millennial variability of the surface water conditions during the Holocene Climate Optimum (HCO) and the late Holocene period (LHP) in order to evaluate the effects of solar insolation on surface ocean climatology. Quantitative August summer sea surface temperatures (SSSTs) with a time resolution of 2–40 years are reconstructed by using three different diatom transfer function methods. Spectral- and scale-space methods are applied to the records to explore the variability present in the time series at different time scales. The SSST development in core MD95-2011 shows a delayed response to Northern Hemisphere maximum summer insolation at ∼11,000 years B.P. The record shows the maximum SSST of the HCO to be from 7.3 to 8.9 kyr B.P., which implies that the site was located in the regional warm water pool removed from the oceanic fronts and Arctic waters. Superimposed on the general cooling trend are higher-frequency variabilities at time scales of 80–120, 210–320, 320–640, and 640–1280 years. The climate variations at the time scale of 320–640 years are documented both for periods of high and low solar orbital insolation. We found evidence that the submillennial-scale mode of variability (640–900 years) in SSST evident during the LHP is directly associated with varying solar forcing. At the shorter scale of 260–450 years, the SSST during the LHP displays a lagged response to solar forcing with a phase-locked behavior indicating the existence of a feedback mechanism in the climate system triggered by variations in the solar constant as well as the role of the thermal inertia of the ocean. The abruptness of the cooling events in the LHP, especially pronounced during the onsets of the Holocene Cold Period I (approximately 2300 years B.P.) and the Little Ice Age (approximately 550 years B.P.), can be explained by a shutdown of deep convection in the Nordic Seas in response to negative solar insolation anomalies. These cooling events are on the order of 1.5°C.