Skip to content


Carbon/Nutrient Dynamics and Fluxes of the Shelf System (CANDYFLOSS)

Wave image from iStock

Completed project

Project start: September 2013  |  Project end: November 2017
Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Principal Investigator: Dr Andy Rees
Other participants from PML: Andrea McEvoy, Claire Widdicombe, Dr Angus Atkinson, Dr Darren Clark, Dr Glen Tarran, Dr Peter Land, Dr Vassilis Kitidis, E. Malcolm S. Woodward, Elaine Fileman, Ian Brown, Lisa Al-Moosawi, Professor Philip Nightingale

The shelf seas are extensive shallow seas which surround large continental land masses with significant importance to people and the Earth system. As the shelf seas are the primary regions of human marine resource exploitation, including both renewable and fossil fuel energy sources, recreation, trade and food production, it is vital to understand how they will respond to change.

CANDYFLOSS focused on understanding the role of the North West European shelf seas in the global cycles of nutrient and carbon.

Through close collaboration, a year-long observation programme of the entire North West European continental shelf was undertaken in 2014, to establish the role of this shelf system in the global carbon and nutrient cycles. Four dedicated research cruises also focused on understanding the seasonal cycles of nutrients and carbon.


The early results from the project indicate that the seasonal variability in biological activity and physical oceanography impact the flux of greenhouse gases from the sea to the atmosphere in a manner not previously observed. The data from the project is available from the British Oceanographic Data Centre and will be of benefit to scientists studying greenhouse gases, nutrient cycling and biological productivity in shelf seas.

The results from this project will help predict the impact that environmental and climate change will have upon these highly productive areas, as well as refining future climate and system change forecasting and improving predictive tools for policy makers and other stakeholders.

A special issue of Progress in Oceanography is in preparation from the project.