Climate models have consistently projected a drying trend in the southwestern United States, aiding speculation of increasing dust storms in this region. Newly reconstructed long-term dust climatology reveals direct evidence of rapid intensification of dust storm activity over American deserts in the past decades, in contrast to reported decreasing trends in Asia and Africa. The frequency of windblown dust storms has
increased 240% from 1990s to 2000s. The increasing dust activity imposes imminent risks to human health and local economy in numerous ways. There was an 800% increase in the infection rate of Valley fever (Coccidioidomycosis), an infectious disease caused by inhaling soil-dwelling fungus, in the same region frequented by dust storms. Effective control and prevention measures of Valley fever are still not available and local governments, in lieu of knowledge-based decision support, usually adopt common-sense prevention measures (e.g., roadside billboard to advise residents to stay insides during windy days) to reduce infection. Besides Valley fever, there are other imminent environmental and economic consequences of rising dust storms, including other respiratory diseases, highway accidents, air transportation disruption, efficiency loss of solar energy generation systems, crop damages and loss of soil fertility, all of which negatively affect local and regional economies. Considering the large stakes associated with these hazards, it is therefore important to provide robust dust forecasting services to air quality, health, and safety agencies to mitigate the impact of dust storms in order to reduce life and property losses.