Merran Smith


Office: SN 2010
Telephone: (867) 333-0792
Fax: (709) 864- 3119



Dr. Trevor Bell
Dr. Joel Finnis

Thesis Title

Lake Melville Sea Ice Project: analyzing change and mapping trails to inform monitoring and safer travel

Research Description

The Labrador Inuit communities of Rigolet and North West River are located on the shores of Lake Melville, a 140-km-long fjord-estuary in south-central Labrador, where sea ice forms an integral part of Inuit culture and wellbeing. During the cold season it provides access to food and acts as critical travel infrastructure. Recent sea ice changes in Lake Melville are set against a backdrop of four decades of anthropogenic disturbance of the natural drainage system, due to the construction of the Smallwood Reservoir and the hydroelectric generation station on the Churchill River. The resulting alterations in seasonal discharge and water characteristics have changed Lake Melville's hydrology and oceanography, potentially impacting ice formation. Over the same period, the region has experienced pronounced warming, further disturbing ice dynamics. The relative impacts of climate change and hydroelectric development on Lake Melville’s sea ice have not previously been quantified. The current project will fill this knowledge gap, providing context for predicting the impacts on ice from future hydroelectric development on the lower Churchill River.

Research Interests

  • Community-based research in the North
  • Cryosphere and freshwater systems
  • Aboriginal culture, heritage and land-use
  • Aboriginal treaties and land claims
  • Northern plants and caribou


Department of Geography

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552