Dr. Okumura's research aims at understanding the dynamical and thermodynamical processes in determining the mean state and variability of the past, present, and future climate. She specializes in large-scale ocean-atmosphere interactions and atmospheric teleconnections, such as those associated with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation phenomenon. She synthesizes observational data and climate model simulations to understand various climate phenomena. Topics of her research ranges widely from the seasonal cycle of the tropical Atlantic to decadal variability in Antarctic ice core records.

Dr. Okumura joined the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics in 2011 as a Research Associate. She obtained the Ph. D. degree in Meteorology from University of Hawaii in 2005, then worked at both the International Pacific Research Center and National Center for Atmospheric Research as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scientist before coming to the UTIG. She is a recipient of the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship and has been serving as an American Meteorological Society Committee on Air-Sea Interaction.

Areas of Expertise

Climate dynamics, climate variability and change, large-scale ocean-atmosphere interactions, atmospheric teleconnections, paleoclimate and thermohaline circulation


Research Locations



Journal of Climate Editor's Award - American Meteorological Society (2011)

NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship - UCAR Visiting Scientist Programs (2006 - 2009)

Organizer, 18th Conference on Air-Sea Interaction (Boston, Massachusetts), American Meteorological Society (2012)

Co-Chair, 17th Conference on Air-Sea Interaction (Annapolis, Maryland), American Meteorological Society (2010)

Member, Committee on Air-Sea Interaction, American Meteorological Society (2008 - 2012)

Graduate Students

Kaustubh Thirumalai, Ph.D., expected 2016 (Committee Member)
Research interests: Paleoclimate/Paleoceanography, Paleogeodesy, Foraminifera, Corals, Proxy Uncertainty My research involves the reconstruction of oceanographic parameters such as sea-surface temperature and salinity over the Holocene utilizing planktic foraminifera in marine sediment cores. Comprehensive observations of climatic fluctuations in the ocean and atmosphere have only been measured (with varying degrees of quality) for the last ~150 years, a mere geological instant. In order to understand the variability of climate over large timescales, driven by various forcing factors, the aid of natural recorders of climate is required. I utilize stable isotopes and trace metal ratios locked in the calcite shells of foraminifera to obtain a glimpse of climatic and oceanic conditions when they lived. Currently, I work on sediment cores from the northern Gulf of Mexico. I am also interested in statistically quantifying uncertainties in paleoceanographic/paleoclimatic proxies. How can we best listen to what the proxies (foraminifera, corals etc.) are telling us? Another line of research that I am actively involved in is coral paleogeodesy with Fred Taylor. I am interested in deformation patterns of the land on tectonically-short time scales and the earthquakes through which they are manifest. To discover how the land was moving hundreds of years ago, I turn to corals which carry a detailed year-by-year record of sea-level. Dating and mapping fossil corals can give us precise information about the earthquake cycle. For my current project, I work in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Christopher R Maupin, Ph.D., expected 2013 (Committee Member)

Tianyi Sun (Supervisor)


Shutdown of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation and its impact on North Pacific climate, 12th Annual CCSM Workshop, Breckenridge, Colorado (2007)

Atlantic Nino II: Phenomena and Implications for Climate Predictability, AMMA-Ocean/TACE/PIRATA Meeting, Karlsruhe, Germany (2007)

PhD Student Opportunity in Climate Research (Graduate)
A PhD student is recruited to conduct modeling and observational study of Pacific decadal variability and its relation to decadal modulations of El Nino-Southern Oscillation at the University of Texas at Austin. Background in oceanic and atmospheric sciences is preferred but not required. General information on the graduate program at the UT's Jackson School of Geosciences can be found at http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/. The deadline for Fall 2014 application is January 1st, 2014. Interested candidate should contact Yuko M. Okumura (yukoo@ig.utexas.edu) for more information.