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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

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.

Small-scale spatial variations of air-sea heat, moisture, and buoyancy fluxes in the tropical trade winds

Iyer, S., K. Drushka, E.J. Thompson, and J. Thomson, "Small-scale spatial variations of air-sea heat, moisture, and buoyancy fluxes in the tropical trade winds," J. Geophys. Res., 127, doi:10.1029/2022JC018972, 2022.

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1 Oct 2022

Observations from two autonomous Wave Gliders and six Lagrangian Surface Wave Instrument Float with Tracking drifters in the northwestern tropical Atlantic during the January–February 2020 NOAA Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign (ATOMIC) are used to evaluate the spatial variability of bulk air-sea heat, moisture, and buoyancy fluxes. Sea surface temperature (SST) gradients up to 0.7°C across 10–100 km frequently persisted for several days. SST gradients were a leading cause of systematic spatial air-sea sensible heat flux gradients, as variations over 5 Wm-2 across under 20 km were observed. Wind speed gradients played no significant role and air temperature adjustments to SST gradients sometimes acted to reduce spatial flux gradients. Wind speed, air temperature, and air humidity caused high-frequency spatial and temporal flux variations on both sides of SST gradients. A synthesis of observations demonstrated that fluxes were usually enhanced on the warm SST side of gradients compared to the cold SST side, with variations up to 10 Wm-2 in sensible heat and upward buoyancy fluxes and 50 Wm-2 in latent heat flux. Persistent SST gradients and high-frequency air temperature variations each contributed up to 5 Wm-2 variability in sensible heat flux. Latent heat flux was instead mostly driven by air humidity variability. Atmospheric gradients may result from convective structures or high-frequency turbulent fluctuations. Comparisons with 0.05°-resolution daily satellite SST observations demonstrate that remote sensing observations or lower-resolution models may not capture the small-scale spatial ocean variability present in the Atlantic trade wind region.

More Publications

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