November 8th, 2012

words are sexy


polynya (puh-LIN-yuh) - n,. an area of open water surrounded by sea ice.

Can be created by a heat source under the water or through the action of winds and currents (a such as coming off a land mass). This is more often thought of as a thing of the Arctic, in part because the word is borrowed from Russian, but they also happen in the Antarctic. Polynya are important to humans because they aid navigation through polar seas, while they are important ecologically because seasonal openings in the ice help marine mammals survive -- not to mention that the rapid rise in the number of polynya (along with the shrinkage of sea ice) is one of the more clear symptoms of our current global climate change.

Crozier crawled out of the tent to see the dark water of a polynya that had opened up not thirty feet from where he'd waited out the storm.