Timelapse is a tool that PBT uses to look at natural phenomena in the Platte River Basin. For example, watching the river change with the seasons, wildlife migrations, cyclical flooding, and drought.
We have stationary cameras — more than 40 of them — set up in key locations that we want to monitor. Each camera takes a picture every daylight hour of every day for years — resulting in thousands of images!
By selecting and combining select images, we make timelapse videos, basically speeding up time to show long-term processes that would otherwise be difficult to see or understand. Using our photographic data, we can share stories about our watershed to educate and connect people with their water.
Here are several examples from our timelapse camera locations and the stories they reveal over time:
Platte Crop Field
Located next to Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, this crop field uses pipe irrigation to grow soybeans and corn on a rotational basis. Water from the Platte River in Nebraska enters through gates in the pipes controlled by the farmer, then moves from one end of the field to the other by gravity. Crop fields are usually planted by late April or May and harvested in October or November.
This camera is located below the Lied Platte River Bridge on the hiker/biker trail near South Bend, Neb. From mid-river, it looks directly upstream, capturing dynamic river processes like the ever-shifting sandbars in the summer and formation and movement of ice in the winter.
A bird’s eye view from the tower at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary on the central Platte River in Nebraska shows the effects of climate and the hydrologic cycle on the river.
Once common throughout the Central Platte Valley in Nebraska, wet meadows like Mormon Island are important wildlife areas; preserving a diversified plant community supports a wide range of wildlife, linking water and habitat between the river and adjacent grasslands. The camera shows the dynamic character of Mormon Island, dominated by grasses and forbs part of the year, a high marshy water table another part of the year, and barren, wind-swept landscapes late in the year.
Jack Creek’s little side falls illustrates the widely varied nature of the Rocky Mountain streams that come together to form the North Platte in Colorado. In this stretch, Jack Creek is a rocky-bottomed mountain stream dependent on snowmelt for most of its flow. It is a full rushing stream in the spring and can be a trickle in the summer.
Sunshine Beach is a public use area on Seminoe Reservoir, just upstream from the dam and power plant on the North Platte River in Wyoming. The shallow bay shows water level fluctuations throughout the year as the Bureau of Reclamation decides how much water to store in the reservoir and how much to release downstream.
The camera at Fremont Canyon is just downstream from Pathfinder Dam in Wyoming. Today under “normal conditions,” the North Platte River enters the canyon through the needle valve outlet of Pathfinder Dam and also further downstream via at a power plant connected to the reservoir.