Essence of Approaching Rain – Sniff!

The Smell of Approaching Rain!

Australian scientists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas identified and named the smell of rain approaching: they called it “petrichor … the unique odor which can be regarded as an ‘ichor’ or ‘tenuous essence’ derived from rock or stone”.  This article from EarthSky news describes their discovery in the 1960’s. Petrichor is the scent the earth itself releases when humidity is present in the air, particularly after a dry spell. Humidity fills pores in the earth’s surface with minute amounts of water. The “oil” or essence is released from the surface into the air. Rain and wind accelerate the process. An Indian perfumery called this essence “matti ka attar” or “Earth perfume”.

Now scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have released a slow-motion video of this process in motion.

It is raining here, thank goodness, and that earth perfume sure smells good!!  I’d like a bottle of it.




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2 Responses to Essence of Approaching Rain – Sniff!

  1. Monica says:

    I love your description, Ian. Fascinating science – and romance – on the part of these two Australian researchers.

  2. The Emu says:

    Great post Monica, love the word petrichor, so romantically Australian, images of wheat belts and downpours, dust bowls and rains, read your link and agree that it’s the Earths essence.
    Agree with you it’s a pity we can’t bottle it.

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