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A Dartmouth study by Callahan and Mankin published in The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in April 2023 shows a lesser known impact of global climate change- an increase in home runs in Major League Baseball games. The study analyzed data from 100,000 Major League Baseball games and 220,000 individual batted balls to show that higher temperatures "substantially increase home runs". Using climate models, Callahan and Mankin attribute over 500 home runs since 2010 to warming temperatures and project hundreds more per season for the future.
The study has been picked up by major news organizations, including ABC News, where Callahan is quoted saying:
"Global warming is going to reshape so many of the things that we care about in so many pernicious and subtle ways [...] And the fact that we'll get to go to fewer baseball games played in open air is not a civilization-ending crisis, but it is another sign of the way that we have reshaped our lives due to our greenhouse gas emissions."
The Guardian also reported on the study, quoting Mankin's explanation of how temperature impacts the speed and trajectory of baseballs:
"When you have warmer temperatures you have lower air density, and when you have lower air density you have less drag on a flying object, whether that's a baseball or an aeroplane [...] On a warm day as opposed to a cool day you should expect more home runs."
Callahan explained to The Guardian:
"More roofs on ballparks is going to be unavoidable. That is frustrating [...] One of the joys of baseball is sitting in the open air, sitting under the blue sky and the breeze. [However,] At a certain point over the course of the next couple of decades it's going to be unsafe to play baseball games in very high temperatures.
[The study is] a way of highlighting the pernicious and subtle effects that [warming] has on many parts of our life that go beyond the classic heatwave, hurricane, things like that [...] We hear about those all the time and it can be easy to become somewhat desensitised. I would hope that this drives home the effect of global warming in less severe but perhaps more pervasive ways."
Callahan was also interviewed by CBC's Quirks and Quarks podcast to discuss the results of the study and impact on Major League Baseball. Listen to his interview here.