Definition of polynya in English:


Pronunciation /ˌpälənˈyä/ /ˌpɑlənˈjɑ/


  • A stretch of open water surrounded by ice, especially in Arctic seas.

    ‘Surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, some polynyas (open areas in frozen seas) remain open all year round.’
    • ‘The biological oases are open waters, called polynyas, where blooming plankton support the local food chain.’
    • ‘These forces move the ice to create open water, even in winter, in the form of linear cracks called leads and large areas of persistently open water called polynyas.’
    • ‘The length of the sea ice season can vary from a few days to year-round and generally decreases with distance from the continent, with the exception of coastal polynyas and the large and regular polynya off the Ross Ice Shelf.’
    • ‘Schledermann's pioneering work documenting the association between the location of present-day polynyas and 3000 years of human settlement in the High Arctic represented an important starting point.’


Mid 19th century from Russian, from the base of pole ‘field’.