First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
Course unit
AVP3054251, A.A. 2017/18

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2017/18

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
IF0321, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2017/18
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 8.0
Type of assessment Mark
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and the Environment
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction English

Teacher in charge ANDREA PITACCO AGR/03

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines AGR/03 General Arboriculture and Tree Cultivation 8.0

Mode of delivery (when and how)
Period Second semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Organisation of didactics
Type of hours Credits Hours of
Hours of
Individual study
Practice 3.0 24 51.0 No turn
Lecture 5.0 40 85.0 No turn

Start of activities 26/02/2018
End of activities 01/06/2018

Prerequisites: No specific prerequisites are strictly needed, but a basic knowledge of Calculus, General Physics, and Plant Physiology is requested, as given in most of graduate courses.
Target skills and knowledge: The course aims at the development of a thorough understanding of physical variables and processes affecting plant functioning, with a focus on the development of fundamental interactions between Biosphere and Geosphere related to energy, water and carbon cycles.
The role of vegetation in determining local and global climates will be underlined along with the perspectives of mitigation of climate changes through the enhancement of carbon sequestration.
The student will be trained to a quantitative approach to the study of energy and mass fluxes and will gain also technical abilities related to the measurement of environmental variables.
Examination methods: The examination will be based on: a) a mid-term presentation by the student on a key topic selected among a range of papers propsed by the teacher; b) the write-up of a technical report on the data collected during the practical work; c) a final oral colloquium.
Assessment criteria: The ability of a critical interpretation of natural processes discussed during the course will be evaluated, along the capacity of the student of an integral view of interactions. Technical and analytical competences, related to the experimental measurements carried out during the course will be also checked.
Course unit contents: 1st Credit: Introduction to Biosphere-Geosphere Interactions; Basic concepts; Energy exchanges; Mass and momentum fluxes.
2nd Credit: Radiation; Basic laws; Radiation fluxes in the natural environment; Shortwave radiation; Longwave radiation; Net all-wave radiation; Radiation budget; Radiative properties of leaf canopies; Instruments and measurements.
3rd Credit: Energy balance; Soil thermal properties; Heat conduction in the soil; Soil temperature regime; Introduction to measurement techniques and data logging equipment; Practical setup of an environmental monitoring station.
4th Credit: Water and hygrometry; Thermodynamics of evaporation; Water vapour fluxes and transpiration; Fick's law and diffusion; Techniques for measuring leaf gas exchanges.
5th Credit: Wind; Laminar and turbulent flow; Statistical properties of turbulence; Navier-Stokes equation and turbulent transport; Momentum transfer; Logarithmic wind profile; Concept of boundary-layer at leaf and canopy scales; Aerodynamical properties of vegetation.
6th Credit: Introduction to the Eddy-Covariance technique; Heat and mass fluxes above vegetation; Sonic anemometry; Infra-Red gas analyzers.
7th Credit: Introduction to energy budget partitioning; Sensible and latent heat fluxes; Bowen ratio; Flux-gradient relationships; Aerodynamical properties of canopies; Evapotranspiration and Penman-Monteith equation.
8th Credit: Integrated view of energy, water, and carbon fluxes; Carbon budget of vegetation canopies; Net ecosystem exchange; Carbon flux partitioning; Carbon sequestration and its role in mitigation of climate change; Mathematical modelling of plant canopies and Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere-Transfer schemes.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Lectures will lead the students towards an integrated view of natural processes, demonstrating the usefulness of applying concepts of physics and physiology to the understanding of the fundamental natural processes studied during the course. Students will be trained to the discussion, reserving time during classes to the critical examination of scientific papers distributed in advance which will have to be preliminarly studied.
To develop technical abilities, students will be involved in the setup of a measuring station to monitor environmental variables. Collected data will be used to write a technical report.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Textbooks are to be intended as a general reference.
Lecture notes, scientific papers and experimental data will be made available through the Moodle platform of the School at
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Monson, Russell; Baldocchi, Dennis, Terrestrial biosphere-atmosphere fluxesRussell Monson, Dennis Baldocchi. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014. eBook
  • Campbell G. S. and Norman J. M., An Introduction to Environmental Biophysics (2nd Edition). New York: Springer-Verlag, 1998.
  • Oke T. R., Boundary Layer Climates (2nd Edition). London and New York: Routledge, 1987.