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  • 8:51 AM, Friday, 03 Dec 2021

Department of Earth and Space Sciences

The faculty members of the department are involved in the following broad areas of research

Astronomy & Astrophysics

The Astronomy & Astrophysics group is comprised of six faculty members interested in a wide spectrum of research areas. The group is engaged in both observational and theoretical research work. Current research programs include infrared and radio observations of Galactic massive star forming regions, the ISM, physics of Accretion around compact objects, astrophysical masers, multiwavelength observations of pulsating variable stars, and UV spectroscopic observations of the intergalactic medium and galaxy halos.

In addition to the individual thrust areas such as (i) star formation, (ii) intergalactic medium, and (iii) compact objects, the Astronomy group plans to join national and international projects like the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), and the South African Large Telescope (SALT). The group is already involved with the ASTROSAT project. In addition, the faculty members plan to make full use of new/upgraded telescope facilities such as the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA).

Faculty: Anandmayee Tej, Anand Narayanan, Jagadheep D, Resmi Lekshmi, Samir Mandal, Sarita Vig)

Atmospheric Science

The Atmospheric Science group is comprised of three faculty members. The group works on the numerical modeling of the atmosphere as well as on measurement and analysis of atmospheric data. The group is primarily working on ingesting and assimilating non-conventional data (including satellite data) to improve the mesoscale model performance using sophisticated variational data assimilation methods. There are plans to undertake research work in the important area of regional climate modeling. The members of the group also have experience in handling atmospheric boundary layer tower based instruments to collect and analyze atmospheric data to realize atmospheric science objectives. There is also interest in the measurements of aerosols and on their role in radiation budget and changing climate. The thrust areas are monsoon climate studies, climate modelling, mesoscale modelling, data assimilation, aerosols and climate change, radiation and climate change, atmospheric boundary layer, unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) as a research platform, miniaturized instrumentation.

The Atmospheric Science group has plans to utilize the data obtained from MEGHA TROPIQUES satellite to (i) understand the convection processes associated with the Indian monsoon. (ii) to assimilate the MEGHA TROPIQUES observations in mesoscale models. (iii) To study the cloud physics related processes using MEGHA TROPIQUES data. Based on the above understanding, the group plans to improve the simulation and prediction of the Indian monsoon. The proposed projects directly addresses a major research objective “to improve the predictive understanding of the radiative forcing of the climate system by aerosols and by chemically-active greenhouse gases.” Moreover, the largest uncertainty in understanding the climate is relating the effects of aerosols on cloud formation and subsequent indirect radiative forcing and precipitation processes. Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) are linked to radiative forcing, precipitation, and cloud structure; yet, their role in climate feedback remains largely unknown. It is this liaison that the Ponmudi Climate observatory (in conjunction with vertical profiling platforms) will serve the purpose of improving our understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions and their subsequent effect on climate through modification of cloud radiative properties and the hydrological cycle; a central issue in the debate concerning the impact of humans on twenty-first century climate change.

(Faculty: Chandrasekar, A., GovindanKutty M., Ambili K. M)

Solid Earth

The department has one geologist who is actively pursuing multitudes of research projects on planetary geosciences. Solid Earth group concerns itself with the study of processes associated with the origin and evolution of various rocks and minerals on Earth and nearby solar system bodies, particularly the Moon and Mars. The specific research themes include the study of evolution of Earth’s mantle and lower crust, behaviour of trace and rare-earth elements in igneous and metamorphic systems, chromite genesis in ultramafic-mafic rocks, mineral deposits associated with various rok types and significance of fluid inclusions in economic mineral deposits, stable and radioactive isotopes in igneous petrogenesis and genesis of anorthosites in earth and moon.

The Geology group is planning to develop an active research base in Planetary Geoscience studies at the institute. The faculty has started collaboration with SAC, Ahmadabad and PRL, Ahmadabad on future Planetary Science exploration programmes such as PLANEX and Chandrayaan-2. The group has started working on identifying and studying terrestrial sites that are lunar and Martian analogues. Geological fieldwork will be carried out at these sites in addition to mock in-situ experiments for the proposed space planetary missions.

(Faculty: V. J. Rajesh)

Remote Sensing

The remote sensing group has five faculty members pursuing research on diverse areas in this field. The group is involved in the development of advanced research and laboratory facilities in the field of Remote Sensing. Projects on the anvil include remote sensing and GIS applications for mangrove wetland management, automated hyperspectral data classification and a joint project with solid earth science group on understanding the origin of Anorthosites in the Earth and Moon using geological and remote sensing approach.

The Remote Sensing group plans to carry out research in (i) SAR image processing for retrieval of geophysical parameters, (ii) Geospatial technologies for coastal zone management with special emphasis on integration of Optical, Hyperspectral and LIDAR data, (iii) Development of image classification algorithms, (iv) Image fusion techniques for biophysical characterization, and (v) Near real time data acquisition of satellite data and pre-processing.

(Faculty: Gnanappazham, L., Rama Rao Nidamanuri, A.M. Ramiya )