1Istituto di Scienze dell'Atmosfera e del Clima, CNR, Italy
2Ente Nazionale Energia e Ambiente, Dipartimento Clima, Italy
3Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l'Environnement, CNRS and Université d'Orléans, France
4Groupe de Spectroscopie Moléculaire et Atmosphérique, CNRS and Université de Reims, France
5Service d'Aéronomie, CNRS and Institut Pierre et Simon Laplace, France
Abstract. Light-weight microlidar and water vapour measurements were taken on-board a stratospheric balloon during the HIBISCUS 2004 campaign, held in Bauru, Brazil (49° W, 22° S). Cirrus clouds were observed throughout the flight between 12 and 15 km height with a high mesoscale variability in optical and microphysical properties. It was found that the cirrus clouds were composed of different layers characterized by marked differences in height, thickness and optical properties. Simultaneous water vapour observations show that the different layers are characterized by different values of the saturation with respect to ice. A mesoscale simulation and a trajectory analysis clearly revealed that the clouds had formed in the outflow of a large and persistent convective region and that the observed variability of the optical properties and of the cloud structure is likely linked to the different residence times of the convectively-processed air in the upper troposphere.