polynya

noun
po·​lyn·​ya | \ ˌpä-lən-ˈyä How to pronounce polynya (audio) \
plural polynyas also polynyi\ ˌpä-​lən-​ˈyē How to pronounce polynyi (audio) \

Definition of polynya

: an area of open water in sea ice

Examples of polynya in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The team found that, in order for a polynya to occur, there need to be a perfect storm of factors, so to speak. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Seals with antennas on their heads helped scientists solve an Antarctic mystery," 11 June 2019 Records show that the 2016 polynya originally formed at the same time a storm swept through the region. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Storms, Salty Water Caused Mystery Hole in Antarctic Sea Ice," 11 June 2019 For instance, the deep water that upwells to the surface at a polynya can sometimes contain rich stores of carbon that have been sitting at the bottom of the ocean for hundreds or even thousands of years. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Storms, Salty Water Caused Mystery Hole in Antarctic Sea Ice," 11 June 2019 In 2016 and 2017, a hole of open water, called a polynya, appeared in the winter ice of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Seals with antennas on their heads helped scientists solve an Antarctic mystery," 11 June 2019 This circulation pushes more warm water toward the surface, which keeps the polynya open. Ben Panko, Smithsonian, "A Mysteriously Massive Hole in Antarctic Ice Has Returned," 12 Oct. 2017 The polynya in question opened on September 9 in a relatively shallow area of water in the Weddell Sea. Ben Panko, Smithsonian, "A Mysteriously Massive Hole in Antarctic Ice Has Returned," 12 Oct. 2017 In September, one of these floats surfaced inside the polynya, providing unique data on its existence. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Huge, 'mysterious' hole appears in sea ice near Antarctica," 13 Oct. 2017 Important but poorly understood features of the polar landscape are areas of open water surrounded by sea ice called polynyas. Alexis Madrigal, WIRED, "Video: Scientific Drones Take Flight at Earth’s Icy Poles," 16 Dec. 2009

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'polynya.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of polynya

1852, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for polynya

Russian polyn'ya

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Statistics for polynya

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for polynya

The first known use of polynya was in 1852

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