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Enhancing connectivity to advance environmental science

Published: 31 July 2013
NDSU researchers benefit from NOAA, Northern Tier partnership

North Dakota State University researchers who work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can now exchange data more efficiently as a result of a recent expansion of NOAA’s science network, N-Wave, through the Northern Tier Network, a robust research connection for educational institutions in the upper-northwest states.

NOAA’s recent partnership with the Northern Tier Network Consortium and Pacific Northwest Gigapop established the newest segment of N-Wave’s backbone, including a fifth and most recent core node located in Seattle. Culminating nearly two years of work, this new circuit went live the week of April 15, 2013.

“Much of N-Wave’s network foundation is based in its partnerships with the research and education community,” said Robert Sears, network engineer for NOAA. Sears said NOAA’s partnership with the Northern Tier Network Consortium extends the “overall stability of N-Wave and sets the foundation for future scientific collaboration.”

Adnan Akyuz, assistant professor at North Dakota State University and director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, said access to NOAA resources is crucial for his work as a researcher and state climatologist. “Without access to NOAA resources, there would not be any state or regional climatology data, and there would not be any historical context for today’s weather,” Akyuz said.

By using advanced research and education network connections like N-Wave and the Northern Tier Network, Akyuz and climatologists from other states are able to exchange data with other institutions, including NOAA. The N.D. Agricultural Weather Network gathers microclimate data from 72 sites distributed across North Dakota, the Red River Valley, and border regions of surrounding states, and then provides that data to NOAA. This collaboration serves to fill climate data gaps with detailed data that NOAA would not otherwise be able to capture. 

As a member of the global research and education community, Akyuz is one example of many researchers across the United States who benefit from access to a highly reliable, high-capacity network that meets the demands of big data and connects to a fabric of other research and education networks around the globe.

As a result NOAA’s partnership with the Northern Tier Network Consortium, N-Wave now uses the consortium’s Northern Wave optical data connection as a backup pathway to ensure continued connectivity between core nodes in Chicago and Seattle. From Seattle, Pacific Northwest Gigapop serves as a gateway to other sites in the Pacific region, with the first being the NOAA Pacific Regional Center in Hawaii.

The consortium’s Northern Wave provides a shared 10 gigabit per second network for research and education institutions along the Northern Tier path in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. Marc Wallman, principal investigator for the Northern Wave project and interim vice president for information technology at North Dakota State University, said the partnership between NOAA and the consortium is good news for NDSU researchers. "Our researchers – now and in the future – who are working with NOAA and other related agencies will have better connectivity for sharing data and resources,” Wallman said.

About the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The administration’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. For more information, visit

About the Northern Tier Network Consortium

This regional network initiative provides a robust research network connection for educational institutions in the upper-northwestern states by creating a national backbone route across the northern U.S. – the Northern Tier. The Northern Tier Networking Consortium seeks to develop and sustain advanced networking capabilities and shared cyberinfrastructure facilities to support the educational, research, and economic vitality of the Northern Tier region. For more information, visit

About the Pacific Northwest Gigapop

The Pacific Northwest Gigapop is a nonprofit corporation serving research and education organizations throughout the Pacific Rim. They provide cost-effective, robust, reliable, high-bandwidth, and high-capacity networking to support the missions of these organizations and the needs of researchers, faculty, students, and staff. PNWGP designs, implements, and manages a multi-state, high-bandwidth and high-capacity network specifically designed to meet unique requirements of research and education communities.  For more information, visit

About the Northern Wave

The National Science Foundation ARRA ARI Grant Award No. OIA-0963559 to North Dakota State University and PNWGP funded the deployment of the Northern Wave network facility. The Northern Wave provides for a shared 10 gigabit-per-second network for research and education institutions choosing to participate from Seattle to Chicago. The Northern Wave provides significant additional capacity to the northern United States, creating a peering exchange facility that builds on the Northern Tier Network Consortium (NTNC), which includes 13 member states across the upper Midwest and Northwest, and its partners: BOREAS, Merit Network, WISCNet, NTN-Montana, NTN-North Dakota, and the Pacific Northwest Gigapop. 

About North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University is a student-focused, land-grant, research university — an economic engine that educates students, conducts primary research, creates new knowledge and advances technology. The university provides affordable access to an excellent education at a top-ranked research institution that combines teaching and research in a rich learning environment, educating future leaders who will create solutions to national and global challenges that will shape a better world. For more information, visit

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013