Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil.
Do you love the good smell of rain? If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, some scientists believe that people inherited their affection for the scent of rain from ancestors who relied on rainy weather for their survival.
Petrichor was coined in 1964 by two Australian scientists studying the smells of wet weather and is derived from a pair of chemical reactions.
Some plants secrete oils during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes are released. These aromatic compounds combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground.
Another scent associated with rain is ozone. During a thunderstorm, lightning can split oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, and they, in turn, can recombine into nitric oxide. This substance interacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere to form ozone, which has a sharp smell faintly reminiscent of chlorine.
When someone says they can smell rain coming, it may be that wind from an approaching storm has carried ozone down from the clouds and into the person’s nostrils.