Tropospheric aerosols increase the shortwave reflectivity of the Earth-atmosphere system both by scattering light directly, in the absence of clouds, and by enhancing cloud reflectivity. The radiative forcing of climate exerted by anthropogenic sulfate aerosols, derived mainly from SO2 emitted from fossil fuel combustion, is opposite that due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases and is estimated to be of comparable average magnitude in Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. However, persuasive evidence of climate response to this forcing has thus far been lacking. Here we examine patterns of seasonal and latitudinal variations in temperature anomaly trend for evidence of such a response. Pronounced minima in the rate of temperature increase in summer months in Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes are consistent with the latitudinal distribution of anthropogenic sulfate and changes in the rate of SO2 emissions over the industrial era.
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