Paleoclimate records show an atmospheric and oceanic cooling in the high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere from 10 to 8 ka BP. In order to study the causes of this cooling, simulations covering the early Holocene period have been performed with the climate model of intermediate complexity LOVECLIM constrained to follow the signal recorded in climate proxies using a data assimilation method based on a particle filtering. The selected proxies represent oceanic and atmospheric surface temperature in the Southern Hemisphere derived from terrestrial, marine and glaciological records. Using our modeling framework, two mechanisms potentially explaining the 10–8 ka BP cooling pattern are investigated. The first hypothesis is a change in atmospheric circulation. The state obtained by data assimilation displays a modification of the meridional atmospheric circulation around Antarctica, producing a 0.6 °C drop in atmospheric temperatures over Antarctica from 10 to 8 ka BP without congruent cooling of the atmospheric and sea-surface temperature in the Southern Ocean. The second hypothesis is a cooling of the sea surface temperature in the Southern Ocean, simulated here as the response to a higher West Antarctic Ice Sheet melting rate. Using data assimilation, we constrain the fresh water flux to increase by 100 mSv from 10 to 8 ka BP. This perturbation leads to an oceanic cooling of 0.5 °C and a strengthening of Southern Hemisphere westerlies (+6%). However, the observed cooling in Antarctic and the Southern Ocean proxy records can only be reconciled with the combination of a modified atmospheric circulation and an enhanced freshwater flux.