A new NOAA study led by University of Maryland Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS-MD) scientist Daniel Tong, suggests that a 20 year increase in dust storm events throughout the American Southwest, could be responsible for a dramatic rise in regional cases of Valley Fever. Tong and his study coauthors found that the combination of warmer sea surface temperatures in the North Pacific coupled with cooler California coastal waters during the 2000s, likely contributed to drier northerly winds which induced soil drying in the Southwest. On average, there were 48 dust storms annually in the 2000s verses 20 events per year during the 1990s. The infectious disease Valley Fever is contracted by inhaling a particular type of soil-dwelling fungus prominent throughout the Southwest. The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters.