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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

Turbulence within rain-formed fresh lenses during the SPURS-2 Experiment

Iyer, S., and K. Drushka, "Turbulence within rain-formed fresh lenses during the SPURS-2 Experiment," J. Phys. Oceanogr., EOR, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-20-0303.1, 2021.

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19 Mar 2021

Observations of salinity, temperature, and turbulent dissipation rate were made in the top meter of the ocean using the ship-towed Surface Salinity Profiler as part of the second Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS-2) to assess the relationships between wind, rain, near-surface stratification, and turbulence. A wide range of wind and rain conditions were observed in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean near 10°N, 125°W in summer–autumn 2016 and 2017. Wind was the primary driver of near-surface turbulence and the mixing of rain-formed fresh lenses, with lenses generally persisting for hours when wind speeds were under 5 m s-1 and mixing away immediately at higher wind speeds. Rain influenced near-surface turbulence primarily through stratification. Near-surface stratification caused by rainfall or diurnal warming suppressed deeper turbulent dissipation rates when wind speeds were under 3 m s-1. In one case with 4–5 m s-1 winds, rain-induced stratification enhanced dissipation rates within the stratified layer. At wind speeds above 7–8 m s-1, strong stratification was not observed in the upper meter during rain, indicating that rain lenses do not form at wind speeds above 8 m s-1. Raindrop impacts enhanced turbulent dissipation rates at these high wind speeds in the absence of near-surface stratification. Measurements of air-sea buoyancy flux, wind speed, and near-surface turbulence can be used to predict the presence of stratified layers. These findings could be used to improve model parameterizations of air-sea interactions and, ultimately, our understanding of the global water cycle.

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.

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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