Changes of the extent of the Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover over the past century, the geological record of the Arctic Ocean seafloor of the youngest geological past, as well as the evidence of a pre-Glacial temperate to warm Arctic Ocean during Mesozoic and Palaeogene time are witnesses of dramatic revolutions of the Arctic oceanography. The climate over northwestern Europe on a regional scale as well as the global environment have responded to these revolutions instantly over geological time scales. Results of ocean drilling in the deep northern North Atlantic document an onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation towards the end of the middle Miocene (10-14 Ma). While the available evidence points to early glaciations of modest extent and intensity centred around southern Greenland, the early to mid-Pliocene intervals record a sudden intensification of ice-rafting in the Labrador and Norwegian Greenland seas as well as in the Arctic Ocean proper. The Greenland ice cap seems to have remained rather stable whereas the northwest European ice shields have experienced rapid and dramatic changes leading to their frequent complete destruction. Many sediment properties seem to suggest that orbital parameters (Milankovitch-frequencies) and their temporal variability control important properties of the deep-sea floor depositional environment. Obliquity (with approximately 40 ka) seems to be dominant in pre-Glacial (middle Miocene) as well as Glacial (post late Miocene) scenarios whereas eccentricity (with approximately 100 ka) only dominated the past 600-800 ka. Plio-Pleistocene deposits of the Arctic Ocean proper, of the entire Norwegian Greenland and of the Labrador seas have recorded the almost continuous presence of sea-ice cover with only short `interglacial' intervals when the eastern Norwegian Sea was ice-free. The documentation of long-term changes of the oceanographic and climatic properties of the Arctic environments recorded in the sediment cover of the deep-sea floors might also serve to explain scenarios which have no modern analog, but which might well develop in the future under the influence of the anthropogenic drift towards warmer global climates.