Greenland ice cores, as well as many other paleo-archives from the northern hemisphere, recorded a series of 25 warm interstadial events, the so-called Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, during the last glacial period. We use the three-dimensional coupled global ocean-atmosphere-sea ice model ECBILT-CLIO and force it with freshwater input into the North Atlantic to simulate abrupt glacial climate events, which we use as analogues for D-O events. We focus our analysis on the Northern Hemisphere. The simulated events show large differences in the regional and seasonal distribution of the temperature and precipitation changes. While the temperature changes in high northern latitudes and in the North Atlantic region are dominated by winter changes, the largest temperature increases in most other land regions are seen in spring. Smallest changes over land are found during the summer months. Our model simulations also demonstrate that the temperature and precipitation change patterns for different intensifications of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation are not linear. The extent of the transitions varies, and local non-linearities influence the amplitude of the annual mean response as well as the response in different seasons. Implications for the interpretation of paleo-records are discussed. © Springer-Verlag 2008.