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There is a large uncertainty in the relative roles of human land use, climate change and carbon dioxide fertilization in changing desert dust source strength over the past 100 years, and the overall sign of human impacts on dust is not known. We used visibility data from meteorological stations in dusty regions to assess the anthropogenic impact on long term trends in desert dust emissions. We did this by looking at time series of visibility derived variables and their correlations with precipitation, drought, winds, land use and grazing. Visibility data are available at thousands of stations globally from 1900 to the present, but we focused on 357 stations with more than 30 years of data in regions where mineral aerosols play a dominant role in visibility observations.