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North Dakota State Climate Office (NDSCO)


1. About the North Dakota State Climate Office

Weather affects our daily lives in many ways. Climate information is essential to every citizen of the state of North Dakota. The North Dakota State Climate Office (NDSCO) is part of the Department of Soil Science, in the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources of the North Dakota State University. As such, the State Climate Office is uniquely positioned to provide information needed for natural resources management and climate assessment to the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources as well as to the University as a whole, and to the other public and private educational institutions, corporations and government agencies throughout North Dakota and elsewhere. The State Climate Office is in a position to provide linkages and to serve as liaison between the users of weather and climate information in the state of North Dakota and the national and regional climate centers such as National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), National Weather Service (NWS), and High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC).

2. Mission Statement:

The mission of the North Dakota State Climate Office is to advance the use of climate information for the economic and environmental benefit of North Dakota and the public safety of its citizens, through climate monitoring, research, education, and extension and information services.


3. Objectives:

The North Dakota State Climate Office has defined its objectives based on a 3-pillar system: Research, Education and Outreach.


  • Conduct applied climate research on issues of importance to North Dakota, the high plains, and the nation.
  • Study North Dakota's climate and its interaction with the environment
  • Analyze and identify climatic averages, extreme events such as storms, freezes, droughts and floods for various stations, climate divisions and the entire state.
  • Promote interdisciplinary research of climate and natural resources in collaboration with other departments in the School of Natural Resources and with the North Dakota Field Station, a research and monitoring unit of the U.S. Geological Survey which is housed in the Department of Soil and Atmospheric Sciences.
  • Publish research results in journals, the State Climate Office's World Wide Web page, and the media.


  • Offer undergraduate and graduate courses refining the “Atmospheric Science” in North Dakota State University.
  • Interact with K-12, community colleges teachers and students, and with other community organizations on different aspects of North Dakota climate.
  • Provide high-quality database for use in classroom activities.
  • Facilitate graduate student research in the college on aspects of North Dakota weather and climate.


  • Establish an effective climate information service program to provide two-way communication between the State Climate Office and the information-end-user.
  • Provide information and analysis of ongoing climate events and interact with local, state and national officials, and media as conditions warrant.
  • Assist local, state and national agencies in climate-environment interaction issues such as Drought Response/Mitigation Plan and related application.
  • Interact with other scientists by integrating climate information into applications such as agricultural and environmental models.
  • Increase public awareness of variations in North Dakota climate and environment.
  • Develop an advanced World Wide Web site for access to North Dakota-related climate information.
  • Response to phone, e-mail and fax inquiries in a timely fashion.

4. ARSCO Qualifications:

In order for the North Dakota Climate Office to be recognized regionally and nationally, the center has to fulfill its responsibilities to NCDC, HPRCC and American Association of State Climatologists (AASC), also referred to as 3-tiered climate services system. The goal of this structure is to increase expectations for state climatological services and help them become a viable and well functioning service system, a system that could meet the demand for critical data at a time of increasing climatological importance.The North Dakota State Climate Office meets the requirements specified in the 3-tiered climate services system.


NDSCO has been recognition by the AASC as the official state climate office for North Dakota since March 2007. NDSCO also enjoys the support from local National Weather Service Forecast office in Fargo-Grand Forks, High Plains Regional Climate Center and holds a Memorandum of Agreement between NCDC and the State Representative. In addition, the following describes the ways in which NDSCO addresses each of the ARSCO qualifications:

5. Communication Capabilities:

The State Climate Office operates a state of the art Automated Environmental Weather Monitoring Network called The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) which consists of nearly 70 stations distributed across North Dakota, the Red River Valley, and border regions of surrounding states. Through careful site selection it is assumed each station adequately represents all weather conditions except rainfall, in a 20-mile (32 km) radius area. Stations are identified by the name of a nearby city or town. The number and letter(s) following the name indicates the distance in miles and direction from the city's edge. For example, Leonard 5N means the station is located about 5 miles north of Leonard.


Stations provide hourly averages or totals for all variables and hourly maximum wind speed plus daily summaries consisting of maximum and minimum air temperature, maximum wind speed, times of occurrence, and various totals or averages for all other variables in English or metric units. Measured and calculated variables and more complete descriptions of each may be found in the site description and archived data areas.
Data are retrieved via telephone modem shortly after midnight each day. A computer program identifies missing or erroneous values which are replaced by estimates calculated from data at surrounding stations. Following this initial quality control (QC) data are loaded into the NDAWN data base and made available to the general public via the NDAWN web site free of charge. Every Monday thru Friday morning, except holidays, data from all stations are visually compared in order to identify suspicious or erroneous data that the computer program cannot detect. In addition, weekly and monthly average data are similarly compared to identify possible calibration or other problems.

6. Information Services:

The North Dakota State Climate Office oversees the operation of the NDAWN Center. The access information to NDAWN Center and the services are listed below:   

  • Answers e-mails requesting climate information or asking climate related questions frequently.
  • Regularly answers to telephone requests
  • Frequent media contacts