Wolf, Peter O

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Peter Wolf


Peter Otto Wolf 1918 (Vienna) - 2007 (London)


Peter Wolf was born in Austria and moved to London in 1935. He graduated in Civil Engineering from King's College, London in 1941. He subsequently worked as a consultant on land drainage, flood and coastal protection projects followed by a short period of work during the last years of WWII for the War Office. In 1946 Wolf joined James Williamson Consultants and worked on the Loch Sloy hydropower plant in Scotland. From 1947 to 1949 he joined John Cochrane and Son Ltd. as engineer for the concrete Mullardoch Dam. Then in 1949 he was appointed as lecturer in the Hydraulics Section at Imperial College. In 1953, a meeting of government hydrologists in East and Central Africa requested that a postgraduate course in Hydrology be established at Imperial College, the responsibility was passed to Wolf. Aided by the Chief Hydrologist of Kenya, F. Grundy, and his assistant, H. Underhill (who later also became a lecturer), Wolf established the one-year full-time postgraduate course in Engineering Hydrology in Oct 1955. A year later, Wolf became a Reader and Head of the newly formed Hydrology Section.

He left Imperial in 1966 to become the founding professor and Head of the Civil Engineering Department at City University, London, as well as a visiting professor at Stanford University, Cornell University and Autonomous University of Mexico amongst others. In 1982 he left academia to work as a consultant, in 1991 becoming a director of Pell Frishmann Consulting Engineers. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Institutions of Civil Engineering and Water and Environmental Management. He is a Past President and was made an Honorary Member of the British Hydrological Society in 1994. The BHS Annual Meeting for Young Hydrologists is named the Peter Wolf Early Career Hydrologist's events. He holds an honorary Doctorate from the Dresden University of Technology.

Hydrological Achievements

Peter Wolf was a rounded civil engineer who took a particular interest in built hydraulic structures and the estimation of design floods. He translated the text by Charles Jaeger on Engineering Fluid Mechanics from the German. He organised important symposia at Imperial College on side weirs and siphons. He was instrumental in setting up the British Hydrological Society and served as its President.

Reference Material

Source: History of Environmental and Water Resource Engineering at Imperial College

Source: Hager, W, 2006, Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000, Volume 2, CRC Press

Major Publications

Wolf, P.O., 1952. Forecast and records of floods in Glen Cannich in 1947. Journal of the Institution of Water Engineers, 4, pp.298-324.

Jaeger, C., 1956. Engineering Fluid Mechanics, Translated from the German by PO Wolf, Blackie and Son Ltd. London and Glasgow, pp.157-169.

Allard, W, Glasspoole, J and Wolf, P O, 1960, Floods in the British Isles, Proc. Instn. Civ. Engrs. 15: 119-144.

Wolf, P.O., 1966. Comparison of methods of flood estimation (pp. 1-23). Thomas Telford Publishing.


British Hydrological Society Meetings