Are the current Martian dust storms worse than usual?

I see that the Mars rovers are in virtual shutdown mode because of the intense dust storms on Mars. Given the fact that the rovers have been on the planet for three years now, does the appearance of such intense dust storms suggest a change in the climate of the planet? Do we have enough data from the past to know if this is unusual? An abberation? A tendency? Obviously, one season on Mars does not constitute a pattern. But it seems as if monitoring Martian climate would give us an idea of how much of our own climate change is due to solar systemic changes. What’s being done on this front? Any dopers have any ideas? xo, C.

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So no, large dust storms are not unheard of. However until 1971 we didn’t even know Mars had weather.

I stand wonderfully corrected. I hadn’t realized we had records of dust storms reaching back before the 1970s.

from the British Astronomical Association