AREA - I
Mathematical modelling is a fast and effective tool for better understanding of the interaction of various systems with the environment. Therefore interest is centered around modelling
(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 modelling 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. Modelling enrgy consumption and studies on impact of aerosols on climate are, also in progress.
Modernization has led to the use of electrial applicances our daily life causing electrical fieldls around us. In order to arrive at a safely criteria, experiments simulating the commonly occurring frequency lelvels are being conducted on the biological effects of anthropogenic electropollution. The work on biological tissue characterisation using ultrasound is also in progress.
AREA - 11
Research activities in this area have been focussing on two distinct approaches: a) understanding thepresent day geological and geochemical processes in the terrestrial as well as aquatic environment, and b) originof South Indian crust based on a variety of analytical tool, including geochemical and geochronotogical.
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 theselected 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 usinggeochen@cal and@ isotopic data continues. Work has also been started to understand weathering and soilformation, 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 theHimalayan 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 RemoteSensing Agency.
AREA - III
A wide range of studies related to environmental pollution, their impact on biota and the ecology of freshwaters 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 waterbodies, havebeen 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 flyash 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.
AREA - IV
The effects of a variety of toxic elements on humans and on plant and animal species of direct importanceto human existence have been the subject of study in the School at both the population and organism, as wellas 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 havebeen studied at suboptimal level on animal and cell culture system in order to relate the bioconversion andbiodegradation of pollutants with toxicity development. Work is also in progfe-ss-on the sensitivity of plants toenvironmental 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 epidemiologicaland 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 ecologicalprocesses with social processes at ecosystem and landscape levels is of particular interest. Studies on above andbelow-ground biodiversity management, maintenance of soil fertility through an understaining of soil biologicalprocesses at ecosystem and landscape levels and sustainable livelihood/development of traditional societies areareas where considerable work has been done and is in progress. Many of these studies relate to a variety ofissues 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.
1. THRUST AREAS & PERSPECTIVE PLANS
The School has diversified research interests but the thrust areas of research are:
a) Earth - Atmospheric Processes
b) Environmental Pollution
c) Environmental Biology
d) Ecosystem Processes
e) Mathematical Modelling
Certain aspects of Environmental Sciences such as soil microbiology/chemistry, urban ecology, naturaldisaster management, agrometeorology are becoming increasingly important because of rapid economic growththrough agricultural output and globalisation of market and increasing urbanisation. At present SES does not have adequate expertise to deal with these important and relevant aspects. For improving the quality and relevancy of our academic programmes in the changing global scenario requires strengthening of our faculty in these areas of research.
A major part of the School research/teaching activities require high quality chemical data at low levels of concentration on a large variety of natural materials. Many facilities have been developed in the School largely with the support of funds generated by its faculty members through research projects. Although smaller equipment can be purchased through individual project funds, expensive/more sophisticated equipment aredifficult to obtain through individual projects. Strengthening our analytical capability will enhance our infrastructure for more sophisticated and reliable data-based research as well as help in resource generation through more project work.