It has been widely reported that anthropogenic warming is detectable with high confidence after the 1950s. However, current palaeoclimate records suggest an earlier onset of industrial-era warming. Here, we combine observational data, multiproxy palaeo records and climate model simulations for a formal detection and attribution study. Instead of the traditional approach to the annual mean temperature change, we focus on changes in temperature seasonality (that is, the summer-minus-winter temperature difference) from the regional to whole Northern Hemisphere scales. We show that the detectable weakening of temperature seasonality, which started synchronously over the northern mid–high latitudes since the late nineteenth century, can be attributed to anthropogenic forcing. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations are the main contributors over northern high latitudes, while sulfate aerosols are the major contributors over northern mid-latitudes. A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution is expected to mitigate the weakening of temperature seasonality and its potential ecological effects.