The short-term response of the climate system to a freshwater anomaly in the Southern Ocean is investigated using a coupled global climate model. As a result of the anomaly, ventilation of deep waters around Antarctica is inhibited, causing a warming of the deep ocean, and a cooling of the surface. The surface cooling causes Antarctic sea-ice to thicken and increase in extent, and this leads to a cooling of Southern Hemisphere surface air temperature. The surface cooling increases over the first 5 years, then remains constant over the next 5 years. There is a more rapid response in the Pacific Ocean, which transmits a signal to the Northern Hemisphere, ultimately causing a shift to the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation in years 5–10.