A polynya is a geographic term for an area of unfrozen sea water surrounded by contiguous pack ice or fast ice. There are two main types of polynya coastal polynya (found all year near Antarctica and Arctic coasts) and mid-sea or open-ocean polynyas (found more sporadically in middle of ice pack).
A new study by NASA found that more heat and moisture released through polynya fuels the formation of clouds, resulting in the trapping of atmosphere heat and preventing the refreezing of sea ice. The study found that the low clouds over the polynya emitted more heat than the clouds in the nearby areas covered by sea ice.

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