The research activities in RAD can be broadly classified under the following broad six areas:
- Resource inventory, integrated studies and resource management: Majority of the projects in RAD are under this category. Notable are district level natural resource inventory for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Kannur districts and integrated resource evaluation of the Vamanapuram river basin. Primary focus of these projects is to assess the state of resources, their utilization and possible management options. Both macro and micro level studies have been attempted. Biogeochemistry of rivers and variations of water quality as linked to land use are important areas of research contributing both in theoretical and applied areas. Panchayat resource mapping was one of the significant programmes under this group.
- Drainage basin analysis, terrain evaluation and landuse: Morphometric analysis of selected drainage basins, terrain analysis covering all the districts in the State and also selected parts like Wayanad are important areas of activities. Landuse analysis, both at macro and micro scale are being taken up. Thrust is given to landform evolution and studying landform-landuse relationship. Recent studies also cover landuse analysis as part of the climate change studies.
- Atlas and map preparation: This is one of the key tasks of the division. The first project successfully executed was preparation of Resources Atlas of Kerala. Division is engaged in district planning maps for Kasaragod, and Coastal Geomorphic atlas and digital atlas of Kerala and glimpses of Kerala through maps.
- Lake and reservoir studies: Long term reservoir studies are essential for prudent planning of resources. Division has completed catchment conservation studies of Sasthamcotta and Vellayani lakes and assessment of their water resources for Kerala Water Authority and EIA studies for Malampuzha and Aruvikara reservoirs.
- Remote Sensing and GIS application: Terrain analysis applying remote sensing imageries is another area of activity of the division. Detailed terrain information has been brought out for 14 districts in Kerala applying remote sensing imageries in 1:250,000 scale. Studies have helped Pollution Control Board to locate industries in Palakkad, Ernakulam, Kannur districts and Kanjikode industrial estate. Digital road map for Trivandrum district, GIS application for urban space management of TRIDA, GIS application for evaluation of Pamba irrigation projects and RS-GIS application for environment data generation for Ittikara drainage basin are some of the completed projects.
- Population and Urbanization: Studies on population growth and urbanization have been taken up for different parts of the State.