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NDSU researchers benefit from NOAA, Northern Tier partnership

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

A recent partnership between the agency, 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.

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

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

By using advanced research and education network connections like N-Wave and the Northern Tier Network, Akyüz and climatologists from other states are able to exchange data with other institutions and the federal agency. The state’s 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 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The collaboration serves to fill climate data gaps with detailed data that the agency would not otherwise be able to capture. 

As a member of the global research and education community, Akyüz is one example of many researchers across the United States who benefit from access to a 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 of the 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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 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, said the partnership between the agency 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,” he said.

The National Science Foundation ARRA ARI Grant Award No. OIA-0963559 to NDSU and Pacific Northwest Gigapop funded the deployment of the Northern Wave network facility.

For more information about the Northern Tier Network Consortium, visit

For more information about the Pacific Northwest Gigapop, visit

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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North Dakota State University
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