Over a period of less than a decade, ocean acidification—the change in seawater chemistry due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and subsequent impacts on marine life—has become one of the most critical and pressing issues facing the ocean research community and marine resource managers alike. The objective of this special issue of Oceanography is to provide an overview of the current scientific understanding of ocean acidification as well as to indicate the substantial gaps in our present knowledge. Papers in the special issue discuss the past, current, and future trends in seawater chemistry; highlight potential vulnerabilities to marine species, ecosystems, and marine resources to elevated CO2; and outline a roadmap toward future research directions. In this introductory article, we present a brief introduction on ocean acidification and some historical context for how it emerged so quickly and recently as a key research topic.
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