Apr 19, 2017

Intensified dust storm activity and Valley fever infection in the southwestern United States

by
Daniel Q. Tong, Julian X. L. Wang, Thomas E. Gill, Hang Lei, and Binyu Wang
,
Geophysical Research Letters
  • States that computer models predict that as the Earth warms, the Southwest United States will become drier
  • States that in the already arid Southwest, this means more dust storms and even potential environmental catastrophes such as desertification and another “Dust Bowl”
  • Examines a newly reconstructed data record
  • Finds that there was a 240% increase in the number of large dust storms between 1990s and 2000s
  • Finds that this trend is likely driven by large-scale variations of sea surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean, with the strongest correlation with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • States that in the Southwest, the infection rate of Valley fever has mysteriously gone up more than 800% from 2000 to 2011
  • In two endemic centers, dust storms are found to better correlated with the disease than any other known controlling factor
  • Implies a potential teleconnection between large-scale climate variations and infectious disease in sensitive regions