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Can you smell rain? | 11 Listens

Can you? Well, the answer depends on a few factors--like the time of year and where you live.

ARKANSAS, USA — We get all types of questions emailed to us and we try to find answers to them all. 

This question is one we've probably all thought of at some point in our life--and it smells a little fishy.

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Conner asks, "can you smell rain?"

Short answer? Yes. 

But, it depends on a few factors--like the time of year and where you live. 

Now, I'm no biochemist, so I traveled to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to meet with experts, who are a lot better at breaking down the science of the smell than I am.

"One of the components that rain can give smell is a chemical known as ozone," said Dr. Anindya Ghosh, interim chair of the Department of Chemistry.

"Two oxygen atoms will break down. You'll have one atom and they will actually react, and then you'll have three oxygen atoms will come and they will actually form something like this. Three atoms. That's ozone. It's a strong oxidizing agent," he explained.

"There is something called a receptor. Basically, a particular protein inside our nose that can capture this particular one and send the signal to the brain," said Dr. Shanzhi Wang, a biologist at UA-Little Rock.

Dr. Ghosh said it typically smells a little fishy, depending on how much ozone concentration you have, where it hits on the ground, and what kind of vegetation there is. 

He said because Arkansas is 50% forested, the trees produce chemicals that are washed down and can sometimes create a citrusy smell. 

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Remember, when you have a question about something where you live, we want to hear from you. 

Let us know by sending us an email at news@thv11.com.

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