(CNN) — Smoke from fires in Australia is expected to make at least one "full circuit" around the globe and return to the skies over the country, scientists from NASA have warned.
Using a fleet of satellites, the space agency has been analyzing the smoke and aerosols coming from the fires blazing in Australia.
Studying smoke plumes from late December, the space agency said that the smoke had traveled "halfway across Earth" and affected air quality in other countries.
Australia is being ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swaths of the country devastated since the fire season began in late July.
At least 28 people have died nationwide, and in the state of New South Wales (NSW) alone, more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. State and federal authorities are struggling to contain the massive blazes.
By January 8, the smoke had traveled "halfway around Earth," NASA said, crossing South America to cause hazy skies and creating colorful sunrises and sunsets.
Smoke from Australia's fires is also causing "severe air quality issues" in New Zealand, and is darkening snow on the country's mountains, NASA added.
"If we started to see fires of this level in Australia every year, or every couple of years, then the impacts on air quality and climate will become both concerning and noticeable," he said.