Researchers explore how climate change will affect Wrigley, Guaranteed Rate

  Chicago Cubs players line up prior to the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday March 30, 2023, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Brian Hill/

A group of researchers at Argonne National Laboratory are taking a look at how weather can vary widely from ZIP code to ZIP code, neighborhood to neighborhood — and even baseball stadium to baseball stadium.

Weather has a major impact on the conditions and outcomes of baseball, and that's particularly true in Chicago, where both the Cubs and White Sox play in open stadiums. Researchers say global warming could change the game, but how so and to what extent will likely vary between the two teams’ home fields.

For instance, while Wrigley’s proximity to Lake Michigan makes the Cubs more susceptible to changes in the wind speed and direction, Guaranteed Rate’s extensive parking lot and closeness to major highways expose it to the urban heat island effect, which occurs when there are dense concentrations of pavement and other surfaces that absorb and retain heat.

“With (Guaranteed Rate’s) proximity to a large built environment with respect to highways and the interstates next to it, there are a lot of pollutants and emissions there, and that leads to higher temperatures from traffic and human mobility and infrastructure and less greenery,” said Ashish Sharma, the modeling lead for the project.

While warmer weather can have several complicated implications for baseball, it also means more home runs.

“When you have warmer, more humid weather, the baseball usually goes farther,” said Max Grover, an atmospheric data scientist at Argonne. “Temperature and moisture impact the density of the air, and when the air is less dense, basically, the baseball has less things to run into in the air.”

At the same time, there are still a lot of unknowns as to how much the future climate will impact player performance.

“Unfortunately, in terms of the impact on people, we don't have as much data, which is part of the reason why there's not as much research on that side. Bringing this back to (our research), we're hoping to have some of these additional data sets that would help answer some these other questions.”

With climate change making it more likely to see extreme heat, poor air quality and severe precipitation, Grover said it’s vital to collect neighborhood-scale data now.

“Baseball is one of these things that we have a ton of data about, but when we're talking about these new (weather) measurements, they can benefit potentially down the road some of these baseball applications,” he said. “But it's also benefiting the communities around them and really empowering local communities to have the measurements that they need to look at some of these really important climate change impacts.”

Argonne’s initiative, which is called Community Research on Climate and Urban Science, studies urban climate change and its implications for environmental justice in the Chicago region.

A year and a half into the project, the team is gathering data across the Chicago area with the goal of creating highly local climate models — not just between the two baseball stadiums but block-to-block across the region.

• Jenny Whidden,, is a climate change and environment writer working with the Daily Herald through a partnership with Report For America supported by The Nature Conservancy. To help support her work with a tax-deductible donation, see

  Cubs fans take photos near the marquee before last year’s Chicago Cubs home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Brian Hill/
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