Riccardo Valentini
Doctor of Biological Sciences
Professor, Head of Research Smart Technologies Laboratory for Sustainable Urban Development in Context of Global Changes ,

Multi multa scinut, nemo – omnia – “Many people know a lot, but no one knows everything.”


Graduated the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” (ital.: Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”), specialized in Biophysics. 

1997 - 2005

Led research projects on greenhouse gas flows in Europe, Africa, and the United States with a total budget of more than 50 million euros: EURASIA-NET, CARBOEUROFLUX, CARBOEUROPE, CARBOAFRICA, CLIMAFRICA. In late 90's, became one of the initiators of the global monitoring network FLUXNET, whose data is still the basis for forecasting climate change on the planet.


One of the founders of the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change (CMCC) – the largest center for applied research in Western and southern Europe in the field of ecosystem adaptation to global changes. 


Was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) for the work on assessing the risk of global climate change caused by technogenic factors and developing measures for their possible prevention.


The recipient of a megagrant of the RF government for a project on climate change research in the far Eastern region. 

2012 - present

Chairman of Committee on science and technology in the countries of  the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, (UNCCD), and also Chairman of  Global Terrestrial Observing System Program, (GTOS), whose authors are Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO), World Meteorological Organization, (WMO),United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO), International Council for Science, (ICSU) and United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP).

2013 - present

The member of regional Parliament of administrative region of Lazio, Italy.


The laureate of the highest award of European Environment Federation (EEF) – Ernst Haeckel award and medal. Awarded for the outstanding contribution to the study of carbon cycles, sequestration of carbon and the control of its emissions.

2018 - present

Head of Research “Smart Technologies Laboratory for Sustainable Urban Development in Context of Global Changes” at RUDN.


Riccardo V. gives lectures to students of full-time programs of RUDN:

  • «Urban forestry»


  • Riccardo V. created FLUXNET, a global network of micrometeorological tower sites that use vortex covariance methods to measure the exchange of carbon dioxide, water vapor and energy between the biosphere and the atmosphere. FLUXNET calibrates the various information flows of regional networks to facilitate data comparison and provides a platform for the dissemination of knowledge among scientists.
  • Riccardo V. developed a unique technology for monitoring the state of green spaces at the level of a single tree. For its implementation, special devices are used that evaluate the physiological state of trees (tree talkers: True Talker, True Talker +, True Talker 2.0) and their vertical stability (TT-G). More than 240 tree talkers daily update the tree state database using IoT technologies.

Scientific interests

  • Climate change;
  • Global carbon cycle;
  • Development of forest and agroecosystems;
  • Implementation and development of green infrastructure;
  • Sustainable urban development.
European forests are intensively exploited for wood products, yet they also form a sink for carbon. European forest inventories, available for the past 50 years, can be combined with timber harvest statistics to assess changes in this carbon sink. Analysis of these data sets between 1950 and 2000 from the EU-15 countries excluding Luxembourg, plus Norway and Switzerland, reveals that there is a tight relationship between increases in forest biomass and forest ecosystem productivity but timber harvests grew more slowly. Encouragingly, the environmental conditions in combination with the type of silviculture that has been developed over the past 50 years can efficiently sequester carbon on timescales of decades, while maintaining forests that meet the demand for wood. However, a return to using wood as biofuel and hence shorter rotations in forestry could cancel out the benefits of carbon storage over the past five decades.
The concentrations of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere are at the highest level they have been in the past 650,000 years. "The Continental-Scale Greenhouse Gas Balance of Europe", edited by A. Johannes Dolman, Annette Freibauer and Riccardo Valentini, highlights current results of research into the European greenhouse gases budget, including human-induced and biospheric sources and sinks. Much of this work is executed through the CarboEurope project, one of the world’s foremost research programs on continental-scale carbon cycle research.
Future climate warming is expected to enhance plant growth in temperate ecosystems and to increase carbon sequestration. But although severe regional heatwaves may become more frequent in a changing climate, their impact on terrestrial carbon cycling is unclear. Here we report measurements of ecosystem carbon dioxide fluxes, remotely sensed radiation absorbed by plants, and country-level crop yields taken during the European heatwave in 2003. We use a terrestrial biosphere simulation model to assess continental-scale changes in primary productivity during 2003, and their consequences for the net carbon balance. We estimate a 30 per cent reduction in gross primary productivity over Europe, which resulted in a strong anomalous net source of carbon dioxide (0.5 Pg C yr-1) to the atmosphere and reversed the effect of four years of net ecosystem carbon sequestration. Our results suggest that productivity reduction in eastern and western Europe can be explained by rainfall deficit and extreme summer heat, respectively. We also find that ecosystem respiration decreased together with gross primary productivity, rather than accelerating with the temperature rise. Model results, corroborated by historical records of crop yields, suggest that such a reduction in Europe's primary productivity is unprecedented during the last century. An increase in future drought events could turn temperate ecosystems into carbon sources, contributing to positive carbon-climate feedbacks already anticipated in the tropics and at high latitudes.
This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods that separate net ecosystem exchange (NEE) into its major components, gross ecosystem carbon uptake (GEP) and ecosystem respiration (Reco). In particular, we analyse the effect of the extrapolation of night-time values of ecosystem respiration into the daytime; this is usually done with a temperature response function that is derived from long-term data sets. For this analysis, we used 16 one-year-long data sets of carbon dioxide exchange measurements from European and US-American eddy covariance networks. These sites span from the boreal to Mediterranean climates, and include deciduous and evergreen forest, scrubland and crop ecosystems. We show that the temperature sensitivity of Reco, derived from long-term (annual) data sets, does not reflect the short-term temperature sensitivity that is effective when extrapolating from night- to daytime. Specifically, in summer active ecosystems the long-term temperature sensitivity exceeds the short-term sensitivity. Thus, in those ecosystems, the application of a long-term temperature sensitivity to the extrapolation of respiration from night to day leads to a systematic overestimation of ecosystem respiration from half-hourly to annual time-scales, which can reach >25% for an annual budget and which consequently affects estimates of GEP. Conversely, in summer passive (Mediterranean) ecosystems, the long-term temperature sensitivity is lower than the short-term temperature sensitivity resulting in underestimation of annual sums of respiration. We introduce a new generic algorithm that derives a short-term temperature sensitivity of Reco from eddy covariance data that applies this to the extrapolation from night- to daytime, and that further performs a filling of data gaps that exploits both, the covariance between fluxes and meteorological drivers and the temporal structure of the fluxes. While this algorithm should give less biased estimates of GEP and Reco, we discuss the remaining biases and recommend that eddy covariance measurements are still backed by ancillary flux measurements that can reduce the uncertainties inherent in the eddy covariance data.
A comprehensive evaluation of energy balance closure is performed across 22 sites and 50 site-years in FLUXNET, a network of eddy covariance sites measuring long-term carbon and energy fluxes in contrasting ecosystems and climates. Energy balance closure was evaluated by statistical regression of turbulent energy fluxes (sensible and latent heat (LE)) against available energy (net radiation, less the energy stored) and by solving for the energy balance ratio, the ratio of turbulent energy fluxes to available energy. These methods indicate a general lack of closure at most sites, with a mean imbalance in the order of 20%. The imbalance was prevalent in all measured vegetation types and in climates ranging from Mediterranean to temperate and arctic. There were no clear differences between sites using open and closed path infrared gas analyzers.
FLUXNET is a global network of micrometeorological flux measurement sites that measure the exchanges of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and energy between the biosphere and atmosphere. At present over 140 sites are operating on a long-term and continuous basis. Vegetation under study includes temperate conifer and broadleaved (deciduous and evergreen) forests, tropical and boreal forests, crops, grasslands, chaparral, wetlands, and tundra. Sites exist on five continents and their latitudinal distribution ranges from 70°N to 30°S. FLUXNET has several primary functions. First, it provides infrastructure for compiling, archiving, and distributing carbon, water, and energy flux measurement, and meteorological, plant, and soil data to the science community. Second, the project supports calibration and flux intercomparison activities. This activity ensures that data from the regional networks are intercomparable. And third, FLUXNET supports the synthesis, discussion, and communication of ideas and data by supporting project scientists, workshops, and visiting scientists. The overarching goal is to provide information for validating computations of net primary productivity, evaporation, and energy absorption that are being generated by sensors mounted on the NASA Terra satellite. Data being compiled by FLUXNET are being used to quantify and compare magnitudes and dynamics of annual ecosystem carbon and water balances, to quantify the response of stand-scale carbon dioxide and water vapor flux densities to controlling biotic and abiotic factors, and to validate a hierarchy of soil-plant-atmosphere trace gas exchange models. Findings so far include 1) net CO2 exchange of temperate broadleaved forests increases by about 5.7 g C m-2 day-1 for each additional day that the growing season is extended; 2) the sensitivity of net ecosystem CO2 exchange to sunlight doubles if the sky is cloudy rather than clear; 3) the spectrum of CO2 flux density exhibits peaks at timescales of days, weeks, and years, and a spectral gap exists at the month timescale; 4) the optimal temperature of net CO2 exchange varies with mean summer temperature: and 5) stand age affects carbon dioxide and water vapor flux densities.
The chapter has described the measurement system and the procedure followed for the computation of the fluxes and the procedure of flux summation, including data gap filling strategy, night flux corrections and error estimation. It begins with the introduction of estimates of the annual net carbon and water exchange of forests using the EUROFLUX methodology.