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

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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Time Traveler for polynya

The first known use of polynya was in 1852

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a shady place in a garden or forest

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