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Climate change is a real gamechanger in baseball, Chicago area researchers find

Climate change is a real gamechanger in baseball, Chicago area researchers find
Climate change is a real gamechanger in baseball, Chicago area researchers find 02:16

CHICAGO (CBS) – With Opening Day ahead for the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, one thing the home teams were watching is the weather.

This year's temperatures have been as unpredictable as any game and experts say their research has found climate change to be a game changer.

On the day before the start of the MLB season, during a morning that started cold and cloudy, 75 lucky fans stepped up to the home plate at Wrigley Field, trying to smash one into the bleachers.

"This is like a dream, honestly," said fan Alex Nicoara.

Temperatures and other atmospheric factors are something the staff keeps a close eye on.

"Being as close as we are to Lake Michigan plays a really key role," said David Cromwell, the Cubs senior vice president of operations. "I've had opening days where we have been snowed out and I have had opening days where it has been 75 degrees and sunny."

While the staff at Wrigley Field are  looking at the weather from game to game, some researchers were looking at the weather during the baseball season and beyond.

"There have been a few studies that have actually proven that with more global warming, there are more chances of home runs in outdoor stadiums," said Matt Tuftedal, an atmospheric scientist. "Indoor domed stadiums are not impacted by that. Some of the things that you're seeing with common physics, warm, humid air is less dense, so the ball can travel farther."

The Community Research on Climate and Urban Science (CROCUS), an Argonne National Laboratory-led project, is looking at climate changes from one neighborhood to the next or from one ballpark to another.

"We can look at the difference between, say Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field, and you can see about half a degree difference between them both," said atmospheric scientist Scott Collins.

Researchers have installed three of 21 micro-climate monitoring sites, with another planned to go up in Humbolt Park on April 15. One of the machines pulls particulates from the air that might impact life like the Canadian wildfire smoke last year. They're environmental factors that could impact baseball fans.

"I already got tickets," said Nicoara.

Though some like Nicoara are ready to fill the seats for their home team in whatever conditions they get.

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