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We analyzed spatially averaged normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time series from the Pathfinder Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Land (PAL) dataset of 11 desert and semidesert ecoregions in central Asia using standard statistical tests for discontinuities and trends. Results from the test for discontinuities reveal that seven ecoregions display significant differences in the data acquired by the AVHRRs on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite 11 (NOAA-11) versus the data acquired by AVHRR on other NOAA satellites (NOAA-7, NOAA-9, and NOAA-14). Across the more than 2×106 km2 of deserts and semideserts in the selected central Asian ecoregions, a significant upward trend in NDVI is evident during the tenure of NOAA-11 (1989-1994). This trend is not found during any other period. We argue that the data from the PAL NDVI dataset for NOAA-11 will pose problems for land surface change analyses, if these significant sensor-related artifacts are ignored. We do not find these artifacts in data from the other three satellites (NOAA-7, NOAA-9, and NOAA-14). We suggest that the comparison of data from any combination of these three AVHRRs can be used for land surface change analyses, but that the inclusion of NOAA-11 AVHRR NDVI data in trend analyses may result in the detection of spurious trends.