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Today’s ag report: Why does it smell after it rains?

It typically happens after a prolonged dry spell
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 6:41 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:02 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Why does it smell after it rains?

It’s actually got a technical term - petrichor.

It is important to note that the rain itself does not smell, but what happens after the rain is what causes the odor.

Typically this happens after a long dry spell of two weeks or more. During that time frame, grasses and plants produce oils that help sustain their growth during a dry period.

At the same time, there are also are bacteria in the soil called geosmin.

When a raindrop is falling from the sky at around 15-25mph, it comes in contact with the surface.

That jostles that bacteria, geosmin, and also releases oils from the plants. When those interact with our oxygen, O2, it creates an odor called petrichor that is detectable to the human nose.

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