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SCD News > Feature: June 30, 2004

UCAR joins National Lambda Rail

New network will will be important resource for atmospheric sciences community

SCD has been key player in arranging for UCAR to join the National LambdaRail (NLR).


T he University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has announced that it will join National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR), a consortium of leading U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies deploying a nationwide networking infrastructure. As a new NLR member, UCAR represents a coalition of universities and government agencies from Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.

The new technology will support research in science, engineering, health care, and education, as well as the research and development of new Internet technologies, protocols, applications and services. NLR is an $80 to $100 million initiative with each member contributing at least $5 million over the next five years.

The new network brings users ten times the bandwidth of current networks. Its increased flexibility and capacity will enable scientists to link models and move data faster and more reliably on dedicated lines. For example, in the next year NCAR will perform simulations of future climate using its Community Climate System Model that will require four times the current data volume. For these experiments, it will take less than an hour to move a volume of data that now takes seven hours. In addition to scientific work, network engineers will be able to experiment with improvements to the system without disrupting traffic.

Through UCAR, National LambdaRail will also benefit members of the Front Range GigaPOP (FRGP), a consortium of universities, nonprofit corporations, and government agencies that share Wide Area Networking services. FRGP members that will receive NLR services and participate in the NLR project are the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Denver, NOAA Boulder labs, University of Utah, and the University of Wyoming. By joining NLR, UCAR will help deploy the national networking infrastructure, which will provide scientists and networking researchers with unprecedented control over a wide range of facilities, capabilities, and services that support application-level and networking-level experiments. The NLR infrastructure will initially provide four separate 10-gigabit-per-second wavelengths with provision to add another 28 to 36 wavelengths as needed to support members' research collaborations.

The future of networking

"The National LambdaRail facility will be a vitally important resource for the atmospheric sciences community," said Marla Meehl, manager of SCD's Network Engineering and Communications Section (NETS). "Universities and scientific organizations, working together, have achieved a high-performance, experimental network infrastructure that will enable scientific discovery on many fronts."

"We believe this technology is the future for networking," adds Meehl. "The hope is that research on this network will make it to the commodity Internet one day."

In addition to supporting cutting-edge uses of optical networking capabilities in research and education, a primary goal of NLR is to bring together networking research communities to solve complex challenges of network architecture, end-to-end performance, and scaling.

Other new NLR members include Cornell University, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN), the Oklahoma State Board of Regents, and the University of New Mexico. The new members will enable NLR to expand its nationwide infrastructure to over 10,000 miles, extending to New York City, Baton Rouge, Houston, Tulsa, Albuquerque, and Phoenix.

"The expanded membership will allow us to quickly complete the entire NLR infrastructure with full implementation by early spring 2005," says Tracy Futhey, NLR Board Chair. "Through NLR, members will not only benefit their own researchers and faculty, but also the national research and education communities by helping to ensure the widespread availability and use of the unique NLR infrastructure.

Founding NLR members include Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC); the Pacific Northwest GigaPop (PNWGP); the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; Duke University, representing a coalition of North Carolina Universities, the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP), and the Virginia Tech Foundation; Cisco Systems; Internet2; Florida LambdaRail; Georgia Institute of Technology; and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).

For more information

For more information on National LambdaRail, see the NLR Web site:


Or contact:

  • Anatta, UCAR Communications (303-497-8604 anatta@ucar.edu)
  • Marla Meehl, SCD Network Engineering and Telecommunications (303-497-1301, marla@ucar.edu)

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