Photo of Peter V. Caldwell

Peter V. Caldwell

Research Hydrologist
3160 Coweeta Lab Road
(10 miles south of Franklin and west 3 miles from US-441)
Otto, NC 28763-9218
Phone: 828-421-9127
Fax: 828-369-6768

Current Research

Assessing the sources and residence times of water and solutes in headwater catchments, vegetation and topographic controls on the hydrograph, impacts of increasing hydroclimatic variability on water quality and quantity.

Research Interests

Interactions between terrestrial vegetative communities and the hydrologic cycle, upscaling site-level hydrological processes to larger watersheds, global change impacts on water resources from headwater catchments to the national scale.

Past Research

Impacts of changes in land cover, climate, and water use on water supply stress, streamflow, and ecosystem carbon dynamics from catchment to continental scales; nutrient and sediment loading impacts on water quality, linkages between groundwater dynamics and wetland plant communities.

Why This Research is Important

Forests are the headwaters for water supply for millions of people in the US. A large number of ecosystem services across the Southeast region (e.g., water supply, forest productivity, forest and stream biodiversity) depend on water balance in forested watersheds. Forest conditions are changing, and changes are expected to accelerate in the coming decades as a result of new and continuing pressures for timber, biofuels and wood products. The knowledge base for estimating the impacts of changing forest condition on hydrologic processes is inadequate, because water quality and quantity may be altered by changes in forest structure, species composition, climate, land use, and land management that are outside the boundaries of historical experience, experiments, and data.


Ph.D. in Major in Forest Hydrology, Minor in Soil Science, 2005
North Carolina State University
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1996
North Carolina State University

Professional Experience

Research Hydrologist, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Forest Watershed Research, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
Research Hydrologist, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Environmental Program Supervisor, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, Environmental Sciences Section, Intensive Survey Unit
Environmental Modeler, North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, Planning Section, Modeling and TMDL Unit
Doctoral Research Assistant, North Carolina State University, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
Design Engineer, Caterpillar, Inc.

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Quantifying the Role of National Forest System Lands in Providing Surface Drinking Water Supply for the Southern United States (2014)
SRS-2014-149 In the South, as in the rest of the U.S., people and communities depend on forests as the headwaters for clean and dependable water supply. A new publication by U.S. Forest Service researchers provides details at the landscape level on the quantity of water southern communities receive from federal, state and private forest lands. The report provides, for the first time, scientifically credible information on the exact extent and importance of forests to drinking water in the South.

Quantifying the Role of State and Private Forest Lands in Providing Surface Drinking Water Supply for the Southern U.S. (2020)
SRS-2020-33 Forested land owned by states or private and family owners makes up about 44 % of the total land area in the South. This study highlights the connection between state and private forests (SPF) and the drinking water supply in the South. The study reveals that SPF lands contributed more than 44 %of the water supply generated in the region.

Water yield following forest to grass to forest transitions (2017)
SRS-2017-152 Forested watersheds are important sources of drinking water. However, species identity affects water yield from deciduous forests. Through old-field succession, changes in species composition over time determine how much precipitation leaves the watershed as evapotranspiration versus water yield.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
SRS Science Area
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources
  • The sites listed below are third-party sites which the Forest Service has provided for reference only.
  • ResearchGate Profile logo ResearchGate Profile