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This week: Wheat profiled; Arctic amplification; UK energy bills crisis

Weekly Briefing
Wheat profile
A brand new series has been launched by Carbon Brief this week, which explores how key crops and materials are affected by and contribute to climate change. The first of our new “commodity profiles” focuses on the prospects for growing wheat in a warming world.
Wheat is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. The Russian war against Ukraine has highlighted global dependency on wheat imports from the major exporters such as Russia, Canada, the US, France and Ukraine. 
In addition to giving a detailed global overview, Carbon Brief’s staff spoke to farmers, politicians and economists from two of the world’s major breadbaskets: Ukraine and India. 
Climate extremes, such as floods, droughts and heatwaves already strongly affect the world’s wheat crop, “so low yields due to climatic changes can have implications for food security as well”, political economist Dr Shreya Sinha told Carbon Brief.
In the light of recent events with the Ukrainian sea port blockade and grain deal, economist Oleg Nivievskyi told Carbon Brief: 
“Russia is now behaving like a ‘gopnik’ in terms of using food to its advantage, threatening food security [and] using a period of low stocks to demand the easing of sanctions in exchange for exports from Ukraine.” 
The wheat profile also examines the emissions caused by growing wheat, which differ from country to country. 
Arctic amplification
Global temperatures have already risen by around 1.3C thanks to human activity. But warming is not consistent across the planet, with some regions warming significantly faster than others.
The Arctic is a hotspot for global warming and has seen local temperatures rise much faster than the global average in recent decades – a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. Previous estimates suggest that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.
However, new research covered by Carbon Brief, finds that Arctic amplification could be much stronger than previously thought.
Over the past 43 years, the Arctic circle has warmed four times faster than the global average, the study finds. Meanwhile, warming is seven times faster than the global average in the Barents sea, where ice melt during the cold season is particularly pronounced.
The authors also investigated how well climate models are able to simulate Arctic warming. The lead author of the paper tells Carbon Brief that “state-of-the-art” climate models “struggle” to accurately simulate Arctic amplification, consistently underestimating its value.
UK bills
Finally, the UK newspapers have been dominated this week by two topics: the ongoing heatwave and looming drought; and the prospect of household energy bills reaching more than £5,000 per year for the average household.
With the candidates to become the next UK prime minister arguing over how best to tackle the crisis and the current government refusing to confirm extra support, it has been open season in the comment pages as columnists press their favoured explanations for the crisis and their prescriptions for what should be done in response.
Look out for new Carbon Brief analysis tomorrow setting out what is really causing energy bills to reach unprecedented levels – and exploring the options to ease the impact.
Recommended reads
This week on Carbon Brief
The Arctic has warmed ‘nearly four times faster’ than the global average
Commodity Profile: Wheat
Cropped: Food crisis progress; Irish emissions targets; Amazon deforestation investigation
This week's Daily Briefings
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