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SANDS OF TIME

A VISUAL DOCUMENTATION OF LAKE MICHIGAN’S CONSTANTLY CHANGING WATER LEVELS, AND ITS EFFECT ON THE LAKESHORE.

Right now, the Lake Michigan shoreline is experiencing erosion similar to that of the mid-1980’s and late-1990’s.  At that time those dwelling on the lakeshore hastened to build the seawalls and jetties which would fortify their properties and homes from the obliterating effect of the waves advancing out of the rising water.

Eventually, as the water receded, the sand returned to build up the shoreline and bury the wooden structures that were erected there. Now, as Lake Michigan moves through its rhythms once again, the water is advancing and the sands retreating, exposing the old, decaying seawalls.  Here you can peruse a photo-journal of this changing shoreline scenery, featuring the old seawalls and jetties as aged reminders of the cycles which are characteristic of our natural world.

(Click the chart to see it larger)

WHAT IS HAPPENING

The increase in water levels is causing drastic beach erosion, much like what we experienced in the mid-1980s and again in the mid-to-late 1990s. During these times homeowners built seawalls and jetties to keep their properties from being destroyed. After the water began to recede, the seawalls and jetties were buried under the beach sand.  With the current rise in water levels the buried structures are reappearing.  I am documenting this event with fine art.

The water levels are predicted to continue this increase through 2017. When the water finally recedes the seawalls will once again be buried and forgotten until, in ten to fifteen years, Lake Michigan begins its cyclical rise.

(Image at right is from 2013)

2013: 576.02′

January 2013 Lake Michigan was at a record low.
This was the summer just before one of the hardest winters in decades.

 

BELOW SLIDER: 
BEACH IN 2013 (LEFT) SAME BEACH SECTION IN LATE 2014 (RIGHT)

2014

THE WINTER OF 2013/14 = A RECORD REBOUND IN LAKE MICHIGAN’S WATER LEVELS

 

JAN 2013: 576.02′
NOV 2014: 579.20′
INCREASE OF OVER 3′ OF WATER LEVEL

 

The winter of 2013/14 brought with it very severe weather, 93% ice coverage, and prolonged days of very cold temperatures. These conditions kept water in Lake Michigan from evaporating, contributing to the drastic rebound of the lake’s levels.

 

BELOW SLIDER:
BEACH IN LATE 2013 (LEFT) SAME BEACH SECTION IN EARLY 2014 (RIGHT)

2015

WATER LEVELS CONTINUED TO RISE, AND BEACHES CONTINUED TO DISAPPEAR

 

JAN 2013: 576.02′
NOV 2014: 579.20′
JULY 2015: 579.82′
INCREASE OF ALMOST 4′ OF WATER LEVEL

 

The following winter produced similar weather patterns, and continued the rising water levels due to ice coverage and prolonged cold spells.

 

BELOW SLIDER:
BEACH IN LATE 2015 (LEFT) SAME BEACH SECTION IN EARLY 2016 (RIGHT)
It’s impossible to get into the same positions to get the same image, due to erosion and water.

2016

MORE OF THE SAME

 

JAN 2013: 576.02′
APRIL 2016: 579.92′
INCREASE OF ALMOST 4′ OF WATER LEVEL

 

Because the previous winter was an El Niño year, the lake’s ice coverage was less than 30% which should have allowed a considerable amount of water to evaporate, but the opposite seems to have happened. As of this writing Lake Michigan’s water level is higher today than it was in December of 2015.

 

BELOW SLIDER:
BEACH IN AUG 2014 (LEFT) SAME BEACH SECTION IN AUG 2016 (RIGHT)

2017

JULY 2017: 580.76′

LAKE LEVELS INCREASED FROM APRIL BY ALMOST ONE FOOT. HISTORICALLY THE LAKE’S LEVEL PEAKS IN JULY, BUT IN 2013 IT PEAKED IN NOVEMBER. STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS THIS YEAR.

 

BELOW SLIDER:
PRE-DUNE IN 2014 (LEFT) SAME SECTION IN AUGUST 2017 (RIGHT)

CONTACT

Need something different than what I have on my site?
Want to book a photo session?
Contact me: 616-560-3834 tony@tonyreidsma.photography

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