Sang-Ho Yun received his PhD in Geophysics and MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in California. He is currently a Geophysicist and Radar Engineer at the Radar Science and Engineering Section at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He is a Principal Investigator for three NASA projects to develop 1) building damage detection algorithms using SAR, 2) modeling tools for volcanic deformation using seismicity and geodetic observations, and 3) algorithms and a system for global rapid flood mapping. Prior to joining JPL, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California. Sang-Ho was a recipient of the 2014 NASA Honor Award for exceptional early career achievements in the development of post-disaster assessments using spaceborne synthetic aperture radar.
In 2016 alone, there were 324 natural disasters that affected 105 countries and 204 million people, causing a total damage of $147 billion (World Humanitarian Data and Trends 2017, UN OCHA). This means that the average daily cost of natural disasters is $0.4 billion in damage, and nearly every day more than half a million people are affected. With these numbers in mind, it is clear that rapid mapping of natural disasters is of significant financial and humanitarian importance. Radar is an ideal tool for this as it sees through clouds, can image Earth day and night, and is hence an ideal tool for rapid damage mapping. The number of spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors is increasing; anywhere on Earth, we expect to see the first SAR satellite overpassing the affected area within 12 hours of a disaster. We used SAR data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1A/B satellites (operated by the European Space Agency), Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed satellites, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s ALOS-1/2 satellites to produce damage proxy maps (maps showing areas potentially damaged) and flood proxy maps (maps showing areas potentially flooded) of various disaster events, including February 2011 M6.2 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, the 2011 Kirishima volcano eruption in Japan, the 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the 2016 central Italy earthquakes, the 2017 M7.1 Mexico City earthquake, the three Hurricanes and the two California wildfires in the US in 2017, and the 2018 Mayon volcano eruption in the Philippines. We are maturing the algorithms and the system for better response and recovery. We will showcase our rapid disaster response products and their potential to be used for economic loss estimate and rescue operation.