Area of Research
Mathematical modeling is a fast and effective tool for better understanding of the interaction of various systems with the environment. Therefore interest is centered around modelling.(a) Ecosystems
(b) Non-linear biological and physical systems and
(c) Theoretical aspects of astrophysical plasmas.
Atmosphere is a medium of transport and diffusion of pollutants, and, once the pollutants are released into the air, they are at the control of atmospheric conditions. Monitoring pollutants is expensive and time consuming, but modeling is least expensive and fast. Therefore, air quality simulation models for point, non-point and multiple sources in different terrain conditions and acid rain are being developed. These have also utility in Environmental Impact Assessment studies for all types of industries. Tropical cyclones transfer various physical properties including pollutants from surface layers to upper troposphere and beyond, They can also act as scavengers of pollutants. For a better understanding of these processes, mathematical modeling of tropical cyclones is in progress.
Population migration from rural areas into urban complexes lead to deterioration of air quality and noise levels and effect urban climate. To assess the impact of urbanization spatial variation of air quality in respect of ubiquitous pollutants like SO2,Nox,TSP,O3 along with meteorological parameters and noise levels are being monitored.
Experiments are also being conducted to assess the efficacy of various screens particularly vegetation for mitigation of noise and improving air quality and urban climate. Also for quick estimation of noise and for the assistance of regulatory agencies, mathematical models are being developed for industrial sources and urban areas. Aerosols depending upon their size distribution, effect climate. Modeling energy consumption and studies on impact of aerosols on climate are, also in progress.
Modernization has led to the use of electrical appliances our daily life causing electrical fields around us. In order to arrive at a safely criteria, experiments simulating the commonly occurring frequency levels are being conducted on the biological effects of anthropogenic electr opollution. The work on biological tissue characterisation using ultrasound is also in progress.
Research activities in this area have been focussing on two distinct approaches: a) understanding the present day geological and geo chemical processes in the terrestrial as well as aquatic environment, and b) origin of South Indian crust based on a variety of analytical tool, including geo chemical and geo chronological.
As part of an all India coordinated project, one of the studies looks at certain aspects of sea level changes along the east and west coasts of India. Data-base includes historical as well as present-day observations at the selected sites, using a variety of key parameters such as sediment movement, etc.
Many studies deal with a number of topics of relevance to environmental geochemistry and biogeo-chemical processes at various time scale from present to Holocene times. Important studies deal with F-problemsin Rajasthan, heavy metal pollution in the Yamuna basin and an Environmental Information System (ENVIS)in Biogeochemistry. A variety of tools are employed in these studies, including DNA and pollen measurements.
The work on the evolution of South Indian crust and formation of associated mineral deposits using geochemical and isotopic data continues. Work has also been started to understand weathering and soil formation, material transfer and associated geochemical differentiation by surface earth processes. Geochemical research to understand fertility status of flood plain sediments taking Kaveri river basin as a type area has also been initiated.
Geo-chemistry and hydrology of Himalayan glacier in the Garhwal Himalayas is another area of study.'The work focusses on Dokriani Bamak and Gangotri glaciers with reference to chemical and sediment transfer in the upper reaches of the Ganga watershed. The studies are part of an all India coordinated research on the Himalayan glaciers. The School is developing research activities dealing with remote sensing techniques with special reference to groundwater exploration and mineral resources. This work is in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Agency.
A wide range of studies related to environmental pollution, their impact on biota and the ecology of fresh waters and wetlands constitute the thrust of this Area. Monitoring and assessment of water pollution, particularly from sewage, pesticides, and industrial effluents in rivers, reservoirs and shallow water bodies, have been investigated in detail.
Further, comprehensive studies on aquatic ecosystems, including different kinds of wetlands, have covered the ecology of wetland vegetation, benthos and plankton, and their implications for wetland management. Studies on chemical speciation of heavy metals and distribution of PAH in aquatic environment have particular relevance to their effects on plants and animals.
The effects of sewage and sludge disposal, mine spoils and fly ash on soils characteristics as well as their effects on plants, and solid waste management are other major fields of concerns in this area.
Currently there is also interest in monitoring of indoor and outdoor air pollution to assess occupational exposures.
The effects of a variety of toxic elements on humans and on plant and animal species of direct importance to human existence have been the subject of study in the School at both the population and organism, as well as at the cellular and molecular levels. By studying cell matrix interaction during tumor formation and metasis, a new cell surface receptor hyaluronan binding protein has been cloned. Effort is being made to use this cloneDNA as prognostic tumor marker carcinoma. Heavy metal toxicity and chemically induced carcinogenesis have been studied at sub optimal level on animal and cell culture system in order to relate the bio conversion and biodegradation of pollutants with toxicity development. Work is also in proggess-on the sensitivity of plants to environmental pollutants, and UV radiation effect on biological systems.
Many studies are also focused on host - parasite interaction using Entamoeba histolytica as a model.Cloned DNA fragments from Entamoeba histolytic has been developed as a probe to carry out epidemiological and diagnosis of amoebiasis.
Ecosystem dynamics and function are evaluated at individual, population and community levels;interacting sets of ecosystems (landscape) are also being evaluated from the point of view of evolving sustainablelandscape management strategies. In this effort, strategies for rehabilitation of degraded rural landscape isemphasized. These studies relate to understanding ecosystem stability and resilience. Linking up ecological processes with social processes at ecosystem and landscape levels is of particular interest. Studies on above and below-ground biodiversity management, maintenance of soil fertility through an understaining of soil biological processes at ecosystem and landscape levels and sustainable livelihood/development of traditional societies areare as where considerable work has been done and is in progress.
Many of these studies relate to a variety of issues in the context of global change and terrestrial ecosystem function. Much of the work on these studies is being done through networking - involving young scientists, governmental agencies and non-governmental voluntary agencies spread over the country. These studies, being implemented to meet the specific national needs, form part of many international research programmes of non-governmental and inte-rgovernmental organisations.