Peter Langdon Ward

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Peter Langdon Ward
Born August 10, 1943
Washington D.C., USA
Residence U.S.
Citizenship American
Nationality American
Fields Earthquakes, volcanoes, climate change
Institutions U.S. Geological Survey
Alma mater Dartmouth College, Columbia University

Peter Langdon Ward is a geophysicist specializing in volcanology and has recently discovered a relationship between global warming and volcanism rates.

Life and work[edit]

Peter Langdon Ward is an American earth scientist who has studied volcanic earthquakes, regional plate tectonics, and the effects of volcanoes on climate. He worked with the U. S. Geological Survey from 1971 to 1998, playing a lead role in development of the United States National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program between 1975 and 1978. He was born August 10, 1943, in Washington, D.C. and educated at the Noble and Greenough School (1955–1961), Dartmouth College (BA 1965), and Columbia University (MA, 1967, PhD 1970). He became Chief, Branch of Seismology, USGS, in early 1975.

Ward worked to educate the general public about earthquake hazards including writing, producing, and finding funding for a 24-page magazine about the next big earthquake distributed in English, Chinese, Spanish and Braille to 3.3 million people in 41 newspapers throughout the San Francisco Bay Region of California and winning national awards from the Secretary of Interior and the National Association of Government Communicators.

He worked to develop protocols for rapid warning by government officials of people at risk from natural or manmade hazards, chairing a committee of government scientists at the White House (1997–1998) and as Founding Chairman of the Board for the public/private Partnership for Public Warning (2002–2004).

Ward studied how geologic records of volcanism in western North America relate in detail to plate motions to the west.[1][2]

Global Warming - Recent Field of Work and Research[edit]

In 2009, Ward published a paper[3] in the journal Thin Solid Films claiming that the highest known rate of volcanism was synchronous with the most rapid rate of global warming at the end of the last ice age. He argues that extremely high rates of emission of sulfur dioxide caused warming by decreasing the atmosphere’s ability to remove methane, carbon monoxide, and many other greenhouse gases and by the primary role that sulfuric acid plays in increasing the amounts of water retained in the atmosphere. He proposed that the rapid increase in global warming during the 20th century was caused in a similar manner by the rapid increase in sulfur dioxide emitted by man burning fossil fuels. After man began reducing these emissions by 1980, in an effort to reduce acid rain, the rates of increase in temperature and methane began to decrease, reaching zero by 1998.


  1. ^ "Graphics For Climate Change #Biographical Information for Peter L. Ward". Teton Tectonics. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  2. ^ "Peter Langdon Ward". Teton Tectonics. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  3. ^ Ward, Peter L. (2 April 2009). "Sulfur Dioxide Initiates Global Climate Change in Four Ways". Thin Solid Films 517 (11): 3188–3203. doi:10.1016/j.tsf.2009.01.005. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 

Selected publications[edit]

External links[edit]