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The Science Behind That Fresh Rain Scent

Short Wave
12min
(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 shortwave@npr.org and we might track down the answer.

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