The Arctic Ocean has been described as undergoing a fundamental ‘state change’– with particular reference to the loss of sea ice. Recent events suggest that the five coastal states (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States) and other stakeholders are fundamentally reconsidering their relationship with the Arctic Ocean. The prevailing governance of the Arctic Ocean is quite different to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. The Arctic Ocean is not a global common and there is no equivalent to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. If the Arctic Ocean is in a state of flux then it is due to three interlocking vectors: the role of science and technology in generating knowledge about the region (accessibility); international law and rights of coastal states (resources); and the role of domestic and international audiences (sovereignty).