There are multiple stories about the melting of ice at the North Pole, and I know enough about climate science to recognize the seriousness of the issue — my question is not about that. I've recently seen a couple stories that have this picture or similar: enter image description here

The caption on a very similar photo at ABC News reads:

A sign indicating North Pole is seen among melting ice in this undated file photo.

The word "undated" makes me a tad suspicious. Can anyone find a legitimate provenance for this photo? I'm cautious because it's a very shareable photo, but I don't want to share it if it's an exaggeration of the current state of affairs.

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    – DavePhD
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 19:41
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    getty sales the image with and without the sign gettyimages.com/detail/photo/…
    – DavePhD
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 19:42
  • Thanks, @DavePhD, does Getty Images suggest that the picture has been sufficiently vetted? Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 19:43
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    There's no physical permanent marker at the north pole because it's all sea-ice which drifts around as new ice forms and old ice melts or shears off. I'm pretty sure this photo is just meant to be a visual metaphor than the literal truth.
    – GordonM
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 23:13
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    @GordonM the photographer, Marketa Jirouskova, went to the North Pole on the tourism nuclear icebreaker Yamal.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


The icebreaker Yamal has been traveling to the North Pole since 1994, including tourist trips.

The photographer Marketa Jirouskova took such a trip to the North Pole.

The official caption of the photo is "Sign indicating North Pole for tourists, amongst melting ice, Arctic Ocean "

other related images are before sticking the sign on the spot and a different view of after

The only question is how much the icebreaker disturbed the ice in the photo.

For timewise comparison, this is an August 1958 video of waterskiing at the North Pole, when the USS Skate submarine surfaced in open water next to a scientific research group there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqWSe6dOgO0

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    "The only question is how much the icebreaker disturbed the ice in the photo": I think there's another significant question, which is the distance of the location from the North Pole. The evidence presented here does not establish that.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 20:19
  • @phoog what about the gps gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/… ?
    – DavePhD
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 20:43
  • Is there any evidence that the picture of the GPS was taken in the same place or at the same time as the picture of the sign?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 20:45
  • @phoog no absolute proof, just that the photographer is the same. But look at this video m.youtube.com/watch?v=x1XMZTzELaE starting at about 3:25 for the same sign and how the Yamal places it when the tourists get to the North Pole.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 21:08

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