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Kyla Drushka

Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Oceanography






B.S. Physics, McGill University, 2004

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


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Lagrangian reconstruction to extract small-scale salinity variability from SMAP observations

Barceló-Llull, B., K. Drushka, and P. Gaube, "Lagrangian reconstruction to extract small-scale salinity variability from SMAP observations," J. Geophys. Res., EOR, doi:10.1029/2020JC016477, 2021.

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26 Jan 2021

As the resolution of observations and models improves, emerging evidence indicates that ocean variability on 1–200 km scales is of fundamental importance to ocean circulation, air‐sea interaction, and biogeochemistry. In many regions, salinity variability dominates over thermal effects in forming density fronts. Unfortunately, current satellite observations of sea surface salinity (SSS) only resolve scales ࣙ40 km (or larger, depending on the product). In this study we investigate small‐scale variability (ࣘ25 km) by reconstructing gridded SSS observations made by the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Using altimetric geostrophic currents, we numerically advect SMAP SSS fields to produce a Lagrangian reconstruction that represents small scales. Reconstructed fields are compared to in situ salinity observations made by a ship‐board thermosalinograph, revealing a marked improvement in small‐scale salinity variability when compared to the original SMAP fields, particularly from the continental shelf to the Gulf Stream. In the Sargasso Sea, however, both SMAP and the reconstructed fields contain higher variability than is observed in situ. Enhanced small‐scale salinity variability is concentrated in two bands: a northern band aligned with the continental shelfbreak, and a southern band aligned with the Gulf Stream mean position. Seasonal differences in the small‐scale variability appear to covary with the seasonal cycle of the large‐scale SSS gradients resulting from the freshening of the coastal waters during periods of elevated river outflow.

California wildfire burns boundaries between science and art

Bisson, K.M, and 20 others including P. Gaube and K. Drushka, "California wildfire burns boundaries between science and art," Oceanography, 33, 16-19, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2020.110, 2020.

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1 Mar 2020

Results from our 2017 cruise to the Santa Barbara Channel illustrate the value that student leadership training can bring to ocean science. The Across the Channel: Investigating Diel Dynamics (ACIDD) mission, conducted from December 16 to 22, 2017, aboard R/V Sally Ride, was led by two PhD students as co-principal investigators and chief scientists (authors Bisson and Baetge). The 21-​member science team was composed almost entirely of our graduate student peers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), as well as three artists. As an integrated team, we conceived, adapted, and executed research cruise plans and developed far-​reaching connections with the public based on our coupled artistic-​oceanographic pursuit.

Intense and small freshwater pools from rainfall investigated during SPURS-2 on 9 November 2017 in the eastern tropical Pacific

Reverdin, G., A. Supply, K. Drushka, E.J. Thompson, W.E. Asher, and A. Lourenço, "Intense and small freshwater pools from rainfall investigated during SPURS-2 on 9 November 2017 in the eastern tropical Pacific," J. Geophys. Res., 125, doi:10.1029/2019JC015558, 2020.

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1 Feb 2020

During the second Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS‐2) 2017 tropical Pacific cruise, two drifters were deployed on 9 November. The drifters measured temperature and salinity in the top 36 cm, wave spectra, and the noise of rain drops. During a short nearly circular survey with a 1.8‐km radius around the drifters, the R/V Revelle measured air–sea fluxes, as well as temperature and salinity stratification in the top 1 m from a towed surface salinity profiler (SSP). A C‐band weather radar measuring rain rate within 1‐ to 100‐km range of the ship observed discrete rain cells organized in a system moving from the southeast to the northwest. Some of the intense rain cells were small scale (1 km in diameter or less) with short lifetimes yet dropped more than 5 cm of water in half an hour near the drifters, whereas the ship measured short rain episodes totaling 1.3 cm of rainfall mostly accompanied by very low wind. The data indicate a large spatial heterogeneity in temperature and salinity, with near‐surface freshening of up to 9 psu measured at different times by the two drifters (separated by less than 500 m) and by the SSP. The drifters indicate deepening of the fresh and cool surface layer during the rain, which then thinned during the following 40 min with very low wind speed (<2 m/s). Patchy surface‐trapped cold and fresh layers were also observed by the SSP east of the drifters. The high spatial and temporal variability of rainfall and surface‐trapped fresh pools is discussed.

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Continuous Underway Multi-sensor Profiler

Record of Invention Number: 48207

Peter Gaube, Kyla Drushka


15 Nov 2017

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