Fact Check-Widely-viewed picture is a computer-generated illustration of Antarctica as it appears from space

By | September 23, 2023

Social media users are sharing an image of what appears to be a large polar ice cap and claiming it shows Antarctica as seen from space.

A version with over 130,000 likes is viewable (here) and other versions are viewable (here) and (here).

The image has prompted fellow users on social media to suggest the picture proves climate change is a hoax, both because it shows what appears to be a large amount of ice cover and because the image does not look like an authentic photograph taken from space. One user commented, “Don’t see any melting polar cap there, plenty of ice. Global warming? No” (here) , and another said, “Don’t look like it’s melting to me as some reports say” (here).

Another commented, “It looks quite fake to me, the way the edges are. Lots of fine detail that is repetitive and areas where there is no detail” (here).

The image is a computer-generated illustration produced by NASA based on data from several types of Earth-observing satellites and can be seen in NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio website, (here).

NASA created the image to show sea ice extent in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and based it on data from September 2005, when ice in the northern hemisphere would have been at its minimum and ice cover in Antarctica would be at a maximum.

The image circulating on social media appears to be the second illustration (here), rotated and cropped.


False. The image is not a single photograph of Antarctica viewed from space but rather a computer-generated illustration based on satellite data.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .