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[puh-lin-yuh] /pəˈlɪn yə/
an area of unfrozen sea water surrounded by ice.
Origin of polynya
1850-55; < Russian polyn'yá, Old Russian polynĭi equivalent to pol(ŭ) empty, open + -ynĭi noun suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for polynya


a stretch of open water surrounded by ice, esp near the mouths of large rivers, in arctic seas
Word Origin
C19: from Russian, from poly open, hollowed-out
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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polynya in Science
  (pŏl'ən-yä', pə-lĭn'yə)   
An area of open water surrounded by sea ice. A polynya can be formed by the presence of a heat source that keeps the area from freezing. A more complex process involves wind or ocean currents that carry ice away from the polynya, constantly exposing more ocean water to ice formation and resulting in the release of very salty, dense water that sinks to become part of a halocline.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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