po·​lyn·​ya ˌpä-lən-ˈyä How to pronounce polynya (audio)
plural polynyas also polynyi ˌpä-lən-ˈyē How to pronounce polynya (audio)
: an area of open water in sea ice

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Since breaking off, both icebergs have moved into an area called a polynya or polynia, where an expanse of open water is surrounded by sea-ice. Smriti Rao, Discover Magazine, 26 Feb. 2010 It was discovered about a decade ago that this meltwater was providing iron-rich water to the polynya. Allison Chinchar, CNN, 7 May 2022 Researchers at the University of Toronto-Mississauga found the polynya formed on May 14, 2020. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 15 May 2020 The Weddell polynya, however, formed much farther from shore. Ainslie Cruickshank, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Mar. 2021 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, 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, 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, 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, 11 June 2019 See More

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.

Word History


Russian polyn'ya

First Known Use

1852, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of polynya was in 1852

Dictionary Entries Near polynya

Cite this Entry

“Polynya.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polynya. Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

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