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Gary Braasch
Photographer & Journalist
PO Box 1465
Portland, OR 97207 USA
Phone: 503.860.1228

Environmental Photography


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Tuvalu 2011 (4a)

Tuvalu 2011

Many homes in the center of the island are affected, as salty ground water is pushed up into the interior of the island by King high tides. Water collects and forms small rivers around houses.Tito, a government employee who has lived in this house for more than ten years, watches as the water rises around his home. He says he saw higher flooding in 2006 and 2008.


Many homes in the center of the island are affected, as salty ground water is pushed up into the interior of the island by King high tides. Water collects and forms small rivers around houses.


Trash in the areas of flooding on Fongafale, Tuvalu, is floated around during the high tides. More to follow on the trash and waste issue.


This man built his own sea wall on the lagoon side to protect his property from the higher tides. This wall was build about 1/3 meter above the high tide mark. It held this year, but he said that last year large waves broke over the wall and flooded the land.


Hundreds of pig styies are built at about the high tide level, on ocean and lagoon ridges or along old barrow pits from WWII U.S. construction. This year's tide level of 3.24 brought water into the pens, creating conditions for pollution to spread beyond the immediate livestock enclosures.


A barrow pit on the northern part of the main residential area of Fongafale, Funafuti, Tuvalu filled with about two meters of water during the King tides. (seen here in a low tide and high tide view). A man crosses the pit with buckets.


Hundreds of houses are built on pilings because the periodic nature of high tides and storm flooding is well known. This year, water only reached the ground level of homes not built on pilings. This year's tide created no additional distruption to most low areas, but the threat of increasing sea level rise and stronger storms puts many thousands of residents at risk. Surveys demonstrate that an additional 0.5 meter from either sea level rise or during a storm surge would bring flooding from water intrusion to 40 percent of homes (Paul Kench, University of Auckland, 2011).


Shortly after the 18 and 19 February high tides, water began to appear in the village of TeKavatoetoe on Fongafale, home to about 120 households. Most houses are not built very high off the ground level, which is 3.3 meters above zero tide, making them at great risk for tide inundation and storms which push waves into the neighborhood. Flooding was reportedlly very high in 2007 causing evacuation of many families from this neighborhood. A new friend reports that she and her 4 children could not return to their home for a week.


In 2007 a strong storm brought water over the main floors of many houses in TeKavatoetoe, and a photo from a resident (inset) shows the water level at the local church.


The local primary school assigned students to study, draw or write about the King tides this year. This 10-year-old shows his drawing of the TeKavatoetoe neighborhood to his sister. Young people in Tuvalu face a future in which sea level is rising faster than in recorded history, storms and ocean waves are intensifying, and more and more people are crowding into the capital city.

1. Tuvalu, tiny atoll nation of the Pacific
2. The fate of islands as sea level rises
3. Tuvalu high tide kids, six years later
4. King high tides flood parts of Tuvalu Part 1, Part 2
5. People and stories of Tuvalu
6. A Garden Grows in Tuvalu
7. Kiribati
8. Solar Power for Small Islands
9. A Village in Fiji
10. Measuring Carbon in Hawaii's Forests


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Photography and text Copyright © 2005 - 2017 (and before) Gary Braasch All rights reserved. Use of photographs in any manner without permission is prohibited by US copyright law. Photography is available for license to publications and other uses. Please contact View more of Gary Braasch's photography here.