Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 209–218 | Cite as

Nitrous oxide and methane seasonal variability in the epilimnion of a large tropical meromictic lake (Lake Kivu, East-Africa)

  • Fleur A. E. Roland
  • François Darchambeau
  • Cédric Morana
  • Alberto V. Borges
Research Article


We report a data-set of monthly vertical profiles obtained from January 2012 to October 2013, from the surface to 70 m depth of nitrous oxide (N2O) and dissolved methane (CH4) in Lake Kivu, a large and deep meromictic tropical lake (East Africa). Vertical variations of N2O were modest, with ranges of 6–9 and 0–16 nmol L−1 in surface and bottom waters, respectively, and occasionally peaks of N2O (up to 58 nmol L−1) were observed at the oxic-anoxic interface. On the contrary, steep vertical gradients of CH4 were observed with values changing several orders of magnitude from surface (19–103 nmol L−1) to 70 m (~113,000–520,000 nmol L−1). Seasonal variations of CH4 were caused by annual cycles of mixing and stratification, during the dry and rainy seasons, respectively. This mixing allowed the establishment of a thick oxic layer (maximum 65 m deep), leading to decreased CH4 concentrations (minimum of 8 nmol L−1), presumably due to bacterial CH4 oxidation. During the stratification period, the oxic mixed layer was thinner (minimum 25 m deep), and an increase of CH4 concentrations in surface waters was observed (maximum of 103 nmol L−1), probably due to a lower integrated CH4 oxidation on the water column. Lake Kivu seasonally alternated between a source and a sink for atmospheric N2O, but on an annual scale was a small source of N2O to the atmosphere (on average 0.43 µmol m−2 day−1), while it was a small source of CH4 to the atmosphere throughout the year (on average 86 µmol m−2 day−1). Vertical and seasonal variations of N2O are discussed in terms of nitrification and denitrification, although from the present data-set it is not possible to unambiguously identify the main drivers of N2O production.


Nitrous oxide Methane Tropical lake Lake Kivu 



We thank Boniface Kaningini, Pascal Isumbisho, Georges Alunga, Fabrice Muvundja and Pascal Masilya (Institut Supérieur Pédagogique, Bukavu, DRC) for logistic support for the monitoring, and providing the meteorological data, Professor Jean-Pierre Thomé (University of Liège, ULg) for access to the multi-plate reader, and Marc-Vincent Commarieu (ULg) for help in analyses. This study was funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO, Belgium) under the EAGLES (East African Great lake Ecosystem Sensitivity to Changes, SD/AR/02A) project, by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) under the MICKI (Microbial diversity and processes in Lake Kivu, 1715859) project, and contributes to the European Research Council (ERC) starting grant AFRIVAL (African river basins: Catchment-scale carbon fluxes and transformations, 240002). A.V.B is a senior research associated to the FNRS. F.A.E.R received a PhD grant from FNRS (Fonds pour la Formation à la Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture).

Supplementary material

27_2016_491_MOESM1_ESM.docx (235 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 234 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fleur A. E. Roland
    • 1
  • François Darchambeau
    • 1
  • Cédric Morana
    • 2
  • Alberto V. Borges
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemical Oceanography UnitUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesKU LeuvenLouvainBelgium

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