Platte Basin Timelapse Project


Platte Basin Timelapse Project

The Platte River Basin, located in America’s Heartland is one of the most appropriated river systems in the world. Every drop of water is spoken for, and little is free. The basin supports an industrial agricultural powerhouse laid over one of the most endangered and altered grassland ecosystems on earth. Beneath the ground it harbors more than half of the mighty Ogallala Aquifer; fossil water whose quantity and quality are at stake. Today this basin is being asked to be both food producer and energy pump in an age of climate change and economic uncertainty.

“The Platte Basin doesn’t have to be your watershed, but the stories can be applied to any watershed in the whole world, whether it’s a creek in your backyard, or the Zambezi in Africa. It’s just a way to communicate, whether it’s to my mom or to a highbrow scientist.” –Forsberg

In 2011 veteran NET Nebraska producer Michael Farrell and conservation photographer Michael Forsberg set off on a journey to show a Great Plains watershed in motion via time-lapse photography and multimedia storytelling. Currently Platte Basin Timelapse (PBT) has more than 50 time-lapse cameras spread across the 90,000 square-mile basin, from its headwaters along the Continental Divide in the Colorado and Wyoming Rockies to the river’s confluence with the Missouri River on Nebraska’s eastern border. Each time-lapse camera tells one part of the story of that proverbial drop of water as it makes a journey of roughly 900 river miles through the heart of North America.

PBT Map 20170113

“Everything that we are doing is trying to see a watershed in motion, trying to explain what a watershed is, to get people to understand that nature doesn’t know any straight lines, neither does water, and a watershed is a living breathing organism that is constantly changing.” –Forsberg

This project is a multi-year initiative that aims to get people to come together as a community and to start thinking about what it means to live in a watershed today. PBT aims to do this by: educating via STEM-based curriculum for middle and high school students, producing a forthcoming documentary film for public television, working with researchers to pair and tease out science from the time-lapse imagery, using innovative audio and visual technologies, and creating web-based multimedia journalism stories.

See film and more from the project here.