Wolfgang Wagner received the Dipl.-Ing. degree in physics and the Dr.techn. degree in remote sensing from TU Wien. In support of his master and PhD studies he received fellowships to carry out research at the University of Bern (1993), Atmospheric Environment Service Canada (1994), NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre (1995), European Space Agency (1996), and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (1996-1998). From 1999 to 2001 he was with the German Aerospace Agency, first as a project assistant at the Institute of High Frequency Technology and later as the head of the SAR Applications team at the German Remote Sensing Data Centre. In 2001 he was appointed professor for remote sensing at the Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing of TU Wien and became its head in 2006. From 2012 to 2019 he served as head of the newly founded Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, and from 2020 as the dean of the Faculty for Mathematics and Geoinformation.

Furthermore, he is co-founder of the EODC Earth Observation Data Centre, where he has worked part-time as senior scientist since December 2014. His main research interest is to gain physical understanding of the mechanisms driving the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the land surface, whereas he has mostly worked with microwave scatterometers and Synthetic Aperture Radars for the retrieval of soil moisture, vegetation, and other land surface variables. This work has paved the way for operational soil moisture and flood monitoring services of EUMETSAT and Copernicus.

From 2008 to 2012 he served as President of Commission VII of the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS). After having been member of the GCOS/WCRP Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) from 2012 to 2016, Wolfgang Wagner was TOPC chair from 2017 to 2019. In 2018 he was invited to join the Aerospace Advisory Council of the Austrian Space Promotion Agency (FFG) and become its chair in 2021.

Wolfgang Wagner is a recipient of the ISPRS Frederick J. Doyle Award for his scientific contributions in active remote sensing. He was recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher in the field of Geosciences (2018-2021). According to Google Scholar his papers have been cited over 29.000 times and his h-index is 88.