Shoreline Animation

See Years of Lake History in Seconds

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District recently had an erosion study done to determine if and how the lake level affects erosion on properties surrounding Devils Lake.  The study and related materials were released on the District website prior to the December Board meeting.

The study provided an extensive collection of historical aerial photographs; twelve sets ranging from 1939 to 2007.  The report did not draw conclusions from these photographs related to the historical migration of the lake’s shoreline.  The RFP for the study discussed the creation of an animation created from the historical photographs.  The contractor decided to accomplish this with the use of a PDF file because of its wide availability.    This format does allow the curious to click hyperlinks in the document and move from year to year for any given areas of the lake.  It does provide some interesting viewing.

We thought it might be easier to see what happens to any individual section of shoreline if this animation was done using a time-lapse video.  This would let you see the shoreline change as the video plays; the video progress bar could also be used to select any view in the middle of the time-lapse.  Seemed like a good idea, so we figured out a way to create three time-lapse videos.

Imbedded in this article are three views of Devils Lake progressing over time.  Each of these views were created by scaling and rotating aerial photographs from different times.  The lake level at the time of each photograph is unknown therefore; no attempt was made to compensate for it.  Given the scale of the photos the impact of this omission is negligible.  It is recommended that you select full screen viewing for best results. Here are a few observations of each of the time-lapse videos.


The D-River time-lapse shows the shoreline beginning in 1939 ending in 2007. The most significant change in this area of the lake is the widening of the river itself.  This was not a result of erosion but rather development of the D-River area with the creation of the 2nd street canal in the early 1960’s.  On the north shore you can see to man-made structures appear, the canal in Indian Shores as well as the creation of a small bay near the State Park.  Otherwise, the north shore remains largely unchanged.  The south shore is also largely unchanged with the exception of a small area near the delta of Rock Creek that appears to migrate south five to ten feet, which maybe attributable to erosion or lake level.

Sand Point

The Sand Point time-lapse shows the shoreline beginning in 1977 ending in 2007. The end of Sand Point was identified by the study to be the recipient of some of the highest wave energies on the lake due to winter wind driven waves.  As a result, much of the property is armored and has been prior to 1977.  In this time-lapse the only noticeable change in the shoreline is the construction of the small canal directly south of Water Avenue, half way down Sand Point.

Upper Bay

The upper bay area time-lapse shows the shoreline beginning in 1963 ending in 2007.  This area of the lake saw a significant amount of development between the two periods.  You can see a series of short canals that were dug into the northern shoreline.  As we progress through time, a couple of additional canals appear on adjoining properties.  The canals seem to widen over time; it is unknown if the cause was additional excavation or erosion or perhaps a little of both.  One can also observe the peninsulas between the canals slightly receding over the years.  This area was identified in the study as receiving high wave energies from winter wind driven waves. The balance of the shoreline where it is not perforated by the canals appears to remain largely unchanged.

Leave a comment

Filed under DLWID, Lake Level

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s