• Atlantic meridional overturning circulation;
  • multi-decadal variability;
  • oceanic response;
  • solar forcing

[1] The ∼90-year Gleissberg and ∼200-year de Vries cycles have been identified as two distinctive quasi-periodic components of Holocene solar activity. Evidence exists for the impact of such multi-decadal to centennial-scale variability in total solar irradiance (TSI) on climate, but concerning the ocean, this evidence is mainly restricted to the surface response. Here we use a comprehensive global climate model to study the impact of idealized solar forcing, representing the Gleissberg and de Vries cycles, on global ocean potential temperature at different depth levels, after a recent proxy record indicates a signal of TSI anomalies in the northeastern Atlantic at mid-depth. Potential impacts of TSI anomalies on deeper oceanic levels are climatically relevant due to their possible effect on ocean circulation by altering water mass characteristics. Simulated solar anomalies are shown to penetrate the ocean down to at least deep-water levels. Despite the fact that the two forcing periods differ only by a factor of ∼2, the spatial pattern of response is significantly distinctive between the experiments, suggesting different mechanisms for solar signal propagation. These are related to advection by North Atlantic Deep Water flow (200-year forcing), and barotropic adjustment in the South Atlantic in response to a latitudinal shift of the westerly wind belt (90-year forcing).