Aquatic Sciences

, 80:29 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal variability and controls on methane and nitrous oxide in the Guadalquivir Estuary, Southwestern Europe

  • I. Emma HuertasEmail author
  • Susana Flecha
  • Gabriel Navarro
  • Fiz F. Perez
  • Mercedes de la Paz
Research Article


Estuaries are significant methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emitters, although dynamics of both greenhouse gases in these ecosystems are regulated by complex processes. In this work, we aimed at characterizing the spatio-temporal distribution of CH4 and N2O in the Guadalquivir river estuary (SW Spain), the southernmost European estuary. During eight sampling cruises conducted between 2016 and 2017, surface water CH4 and N2O concentrations were measured along the salinity gradient of the estuary by using static-head space equilibration gas chromatography. The CH4 and N2O saturation ranges over the estuarine transect were 520–30,800% (average 2285%) and 40–390% (average 183%), respectively and air–water fluxes ranged from 13 to 1000 µmol m− 2 day− 1(average 66.2 µmol m− 2 day− 1) for CH4 and from − 7 to 35 µmol m− 2 day− 1 (average 8.5 µmol m− 2 day− 1) for N2O. A slight increase in the emissions was detected upstream and no seasonal trends were observed. Mixing between freshwater and oceanic waters influenced biogeochemistry of estuarine waters, affecting CH4 and N2O fluxes. In order to identify potential sources of CH4 and N2O, biogeochemical parameters involved in the formation pathways of both gases, such as salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrients and organic matter were analyzed. Results suggested that sulfate inhibition and microbial oxidation played a relevant role in dissolved CH4 accumulation in the water column whereas associations found between N2O, nitrate and oxygen indicated that nitrification was a major source of this gas. Therefore, the influence of the tidal-fluvial interaction on ecosystem metabolism regulates trace gas dynamics in the Guadalquivir estuary.


Estuary Guadalquivir Methane Nitrification Nitrous oxide 



This research was funded by the project 1539/2015 from the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Environment. The authors are indebted to María Ferrer-Marco, Marta Riera and Antonio Moreno for support in the field work and samples analysis and Manuel Arjonilla for nutrients analysis.

Author contributions

IEH conceived the study, contributed to data analysis and interpretation and draft the manuscript. GN and FFP contributed to data analysis interpretation and critical discussion. SF and MdP contributed to analytical design, data calculation and discussion.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía, (CSIC)CádizSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC)VigoSpain
  3. 3.Centro Oceanográfico de A Coruña (IEO)A CoruñaSpain

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