Sniffing Out a Summer StormResearch shows three different scents associated with rain
Clouds roll in as a storm approaches in Colorado. (AP)
It's a common belief that people can feel a storm approach when their joints get achy. But it's also possible to smell an oncoming storm. As a recent article in Scientific American explains, we experience three unique scents during a typical summer storm pattern.
First, there's the sweet scent of ozone. Prior to a storm, the atmospheric chemical is carried to lower altitudes by a thunderstorm's downdrafts, chemist Louisa Emmons told the magazine. During the actual storm, we smell "odiferous molecules on surfaces" as they're carried into the air, a scent technically known as petrichor. Finally, in the storm's aftermath, there might be a musty odor of geosmin, a metabolic by-product of bacteria or blue-green algae.
Is there a greater purpose to all the scents? It turns out they could be sending messages to animals, like cuing freshwater fish to spawn, or creating associations for humans by triggering a memory. According to psychologist Pamela Dawson, "Although humans don't appear to have innate responses to these odors, we do learn to associate them with our experiences."
Via Adventure Journal