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Climate change contributing to surge in home runs in MLB, research done at Dartmouth College shows - KTRK-TV

Climate change contributing to surge in home runs in MLB, research done at Dartmouth College shows – KTRK-TV

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Baseball has hotter hitters because the hitters are hotter. New research shows the climate change is contributing to a surge in home runs.

Hotter, thinner air that allows balls to fly farther contributed a bit to a surge in home runs since 2010, according to a statistical analysis by Dartmouth College scientists published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. They analyzed 100,000 major league games and more than 200,000 balls put into play in the last few years, along with weather conditions, stadiums, and other factors.

The video above is ABC13’s 24/7 livestream.

“Global warming is juicing home runs in Major League Baseball,” study co-author Justin Mankin, a Dartmouth climate scientist, said.

It’s basic physics.

When air heats up, molecules move faster and away from each other, making the air less dense. Baseballs launched off a bat go farther through thinner air because there’s less resistance to slow the ball. Just a little farther can mean the difference between a home run and a flyout, according to Alan Nathan, a University of Illinois physicist who wasn’t part of the Dartmouth study.

Research showed a 1% increase in home run likelihood with every degree the air warms. The average U.S. temperature in June, July, and August has increased by more than 2 degrees in the last 40 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

So how are the Astros impacted by warmer temperatures, if at all? The team plays at least half its games inside a dome and has done so since moving into the Astrodome in 1965.

In 2010, the MLB average for team home runs was 154. That season, the Astros hit just 108 long balls en route to a fourth place finish in their division. In 2022, the MLB average for team home runs was 174. That season, the Astros ranked fourth in the majors with 214 home runs.

Anyone who follows the Astros knows there was a stark difference in talent between the 2010 club and the 2022 World Champions.

ABC13 dove a little deeper. Of the Astros’ 214 home runs in 2022, 108 of them came during 81 games in June, July, and August. The other 81 games, played in April, May, September, and October, saw the Astros hit 106 home runs.

SEE RELATED STORY: Houston Astros just miss repeat World Series win thanks to NL West rival, predicts

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