The Sensory Hit of Cold Weather on Our Noses, Explained
We associate summer with the smell of salt and sand, and autumn with cinnamon and campfires—but what about winter? The peak of fresh pine has escaped us for the moment, our holiday wreaths and Christmas trees mulched. As it turns out, cold weather has an adverse effect on our senses. The scent of a “crisp” and snowy winter day is, in fact, one of absence and void. Fresh snowfall brings humidity to the air we breathe in, giving our noses a sensory hit that we feel more than we smell. Molecules in the air slow down in colder temperatures, while, as researchers have found, our olfactory receptors also retract a bit more into our noses, possibly as a natural bodily defense against cold air. Whether it’s snowy or not, we smell fewer odors than we’re accustomed to during the winter as a result. For the moment, the silver lining is consolation enough for us here at The Slowdown, daydreaming of warmer weather.