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Kyla Drushka

Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Oceanography





Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


B.S. Physics, McGill University, 2004

Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2011


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Linking northeastern North Pacific oxygen changes to upstream surface outcrop variations

Mecking, S., and K. Drushka, "Linking northeastern North Pacific oxygen changes to upstream surface outcrop variations," Biogeosciences, 21, 1117-1133, doi:10.5194/bg-21-1117-2024, 2024.

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7 Mar 2024

Understanding the response of the ocean to global warming, including the renewal of ocean waters from the surface (ventilation), is important for future climate predictions. Oxygen distributions in the ocean thermocline have proven an effective way to infer changes in ventilation because physical processes (ventilation and circulation) that supply oxygen are thought to be primarily responsible for changes in interior oxygen concentrations. Here, the focus is on the North Pacific thermocline, where some of the world's oceans' largest oxygen variations have been observed. These variations, described as bi-decadal cycles on top of a small declining trend, are strongest on subsurface isopycnals that outcrop into the mixed layer of the northwestern North Pacific in late winter. In this study, surface density time series are reconstructed in this area using observational data only and focusing on the time period from 1982, the first full year of the satellite sea surface temperature record, to 2020. It is found that changes in the annual maximum outcrop area of the densest isopycnals outcropping in the northwestern North Pacific are correlated with interannual oxygen variability observed at Ocean Station P (OSP) downstream at about a 10-year lag. The hypothesis is that ocean ventilation and uptake of oxygen is greatly reduced when the outcrop areas are small and that this signal travels within the North Pacific Current to OSP, with 10 years being at the higher end of transit times reported in other studies. It is also found that sea surface salinity (SSS) dominates over sea surface temperature (SST) in driving interannual fluctuations in annual maximum surface density in the northwestern North Pacific, highlighting the role that salinity may play in altering ocean ventilation. In contrast, SSS and SST contribute about equally to the long-term declining surface density trends that are superimposed on the interannual cycles.

Ocean mesoscale and frontal-scale ocean–atmosphere interactions and influence on large-scale climate: A review

Seo, H., and 17 others including K. Drushka, "Ocean mesoscale and frontal-scale ocean–atmosphere interactions and influence on large-scale climate: A review," J. Clim., 36, 1981-2013, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0982.1, 2023.

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1 Apr 2023

Two decades of high-resolution satellite observations and climate modeling studies have indicated strong ocean–atmosphere coupled feedback mediated by ocean mesoscale processes, including semipermanent and meandrous SST fronts, mesoscale eddies, and filaments. The air–sea exchanges in latent heat, sensible heat, momentum, and carbon dioxide associated with this so-called mesoscale air–sea interaction are robust near the major western boundary currents, Southern Ocean fronts, and equatorial and coastal upwelling zones, but they are also ubiquitous over the global oceans wherever ocean mesoscale processes are active. Current theories, informed by rapidly advancing observational and modeling capabilities, have established the importance of mesoscale and frontal-scale air–sea interaction processes for understanding large-scale ocean circulation, biogeochemistry, and weather and climate variability. However, numerous challenges remain to accurately diagnose, observe, and simulate mesoscale air–sea interaction to quantify its impacts on large-scale processes. This article provides a comprehensive review of key aspects pertinent to mesoscale air–sea interaction, synthesizes current understanding with remaining gaps and uncertainties, and provides recommendations on theoretical, observational, and modeling strategies for future air–sea interaction research.

Air-ice-ocean interactions and the delay of autumn freeze-up in the Western Arctic Ocean

Thomson, J., M. Smith, K. Drushka, and C. Lee, "Air-ice-ocean interactions and the delay of autumn freeze-up in the Western Arctic Ocean," Oceanography, 35, 76-87, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2022.124, 2022.

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1 Dec 2022

Arctic sea ice is becoming a more seasonal phenomenon as a direct result of global warming. Across the Arctic, the refreezing of the ocean surface each autumn now occurs a full month later than it did just 40 years ago. In the western Arctic (Canada Basin), the delay is related to an increase in the seasonal heat stored in surface waters; cooling to the freezing point requires more heat loss to the atmosphere in autumn. In the marginal ice zone, the cooling and freezing process is mediated by ocean mixing and by the presence of remnant sea ice, which may precondition the ocean surface for refreezing. The delay in refreezing has many impacts, including increased open ocean exposure to autumn storms, additional wave energy incident to Arctic coasts, shifts in animal migration patterns, and extension of the time window for transit by commercial ships along the Northern Sea Route. This article reviews the observed trends in the western Arctic and the processes responsible for these trends, and provides brief in situ observations from the Beaufort Sea that illustrate some of these processes.

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Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center