A multi-millennia simulation performed with a three-dimensional climate model under constant forcing shows abrupt climate events lasting for several centuries caused by a spontaneous transition to an infrequently visited state of the oceanic thermohaline circulation. This state is characterized by a more southern location of the main area of deep ocean convection in the North Atlantic and implies a large cooling in the mid and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. This transition of the thermohaline circulation occurs spontaneously less than once in 5000 years in the model, but such transitions can also be triggered by a reduction of the solar irradiance.
H Goosse, H Renssen, FM Selten, RJ Haarsma, JD Opsteegh. Potential causes of abrupt climate events: A numerical study with a three-dimensional climate model
published, Geophys. Res. Lett., 2002, 29