The western Arctic Ocean is experiencing some of the most rapid environmental changes in the Arctic. However, little is known about the microbial community response to these changes. Employing observations from the summer of 2017, this study investigated latitudinal variations in bacterial community composition in surface waters between the Bering Strait and Chukchi Borderland and the factors driving the changes. Results indicate three distinctive communities. Southern Chukchi bacterial communities are associated with nutrient rich conditions, including genera such as Sulfitobacter, whereas the northern Chukchi bacterial community is dominated by SAR clades, Flavobacterium, Paraglaciecola, and Polaribacter genera associated with low nutrients and sea ice conditions. The frontal region, located on the boundary between the southern and northern Chukchi, is a transition zone with intermediate physical and biogeochemical properties; however, bacterial communities differed markedly from those found to the north and south. In the transition zone, Sphingomonas, with as yet undetermined ecological characteristics, are relatively abundant. Latitudinal distributions in bacterial community composition are mainly attributed to physical and biogeochemical characteristics, suggesting that these communities are susceptible to Arctic environmental changes. These findings provide a foundation to improve understanding of bacterial community variations in response to a rapidly changing Arctic Ocean.