Short Wave
Short Wave
Jun 10, 2021
The Science Behind That Fresh Rain Scent
Play • 12 min
(Encore episode.) Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? Reporter Emily Vaughn answers this bacteria-based mystery.

Read the paper on which this episode was based.

Other scent mysteries driving your nose wild? Email the show at and we might track down the answer.
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