Scientists Confirm Some People Are Able To Smell When Rain Is Coming

Rain pouring
Credit: Alamy

Scientists believe that some people are able to smell when rain is coming.

The unmistakable fragrance that fills the air after rain is a phenomenon many are acquainted with – especially in the UK.

This post-rain aroma, often intensified following a spell of sunshine and referred to as ‘petrichor’, has its origins rooted in science.

Even though some debate surrounds its perceptibility before rain actually falls.

Remarkably, some individuals assert they can sense the impending rain by smelling the atmospheric changes.

While skepticism prevails, science might hold the key to this pre-rain olfactory perception.

Petrichor, a term derived from Greek words ‘petros’ meaning stone and ‘ichor’ denoting the blood of Greek gods, was coined in 1964 by mineralogists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas.

It describes the captivating scent following a downpour and stems from soil bacteria releasing a chemical compound named ‘geosmin’.

Our olfactory ability to detect geosmin is impressive, surpassing even sharks’ famed capability to sense blood.

This earthy aroma, alluring to many, serves a purpose beyond its appeal.

The soil bacteria generate geosmin to entice organisms into the earth, thus facilitating the bacteria’s dispersion.

The intensity of this scent post-rain owes itself to the interaction of raindrops with the ground.

Raindrops can encapsulate pockets of air upon impact, forming tiny aerosols that elevate chemicals and microorganisms into the atmosphere.

Scientists have confirmed that some people can smell when rain is coming. Credit: Alamy

However, there’s another scent at play, documented by IFLScience, which could influence our sensory experiences – ozone.

Ozone possesses a distinct, slightly sweeter aroma compared to petrichor.

This smell of ozone might potentially herald an approaching storm.

The scent arises from the gas being driven to ground level by winds accompanying an impending storm.

This phenomenon places ozone gas within proximity of our noses, allowing us to detect its fragrance.

Hence, the notion that certain individuals can sense the advent of rain through smell carries some scientific credence.

The intertwining of petrichor’s aromatic allure and the ozone scent’s stormy portent demonstrates the intricate connections between our senses and the natural world.

So, the aroma that accompanies rain possesses a scientific underpinning, with geosmin released by soil bacteria contributing to the enchanting scent of petrichor.

The scent of ozone preceding a storm substantiates the claim that some individuals can indeed smell the rain’s approach.

In this interplay between nature’s scents and our senses, the world around us is constantly revealing its hidden complexities.

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Written by Cal Gaunt

Cal is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in writing trending and entertainment news. He previously worked as a news reporter at the Lancashire Telegraph and earned an NCTJ in Sports Journalism.